The number of people claiming unemployment benefits increased for the second consecutive month in Kent, once again bucking the national trend.
Another 351 jobseekers joined the dole queue in February, taking the county’s total to 19,836 according to the Office for National Statistics.
Canterbury was the worst performer, with 85 more people signing on last month, taking the city’s total to 1,224.
The number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance in Kent has grown for the second straight month
It was closely followed by Ashford, where the claimant count rose by 82 to 1,122.
Significant increases were recorded in Maidstone, up 62 to 1,316, and Dartford, up 36 to 900, while Gravesham and Tonbridge and Malling both increased by 33 to 1,430 and 809 respectively.
Medway, the region with the county’s highest claimant count, recorded an increase of 34 to 3,966.
Other rise of 10 in Dover to 1,553 was more modest but there was some good news, with Swale falling 45 to 1,857, although not making up for the increase of 137 a month earlier.
The affluent Tunbridge Wells watched its dole queues thinned by 14 to 530, while neighbouring Sevenoaks saw Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants decline by 11 to 625.
The total number of unemployed workers in the South East fell by 1,000 to 209,000 in the three months to January.
The unemployment rate in the South East was the lowest in Britain at 4.5%. The region’s claimant count rate was also the nation’s lowest at 1.3%.
Nationally, the number of people out of work in the UK fell by 102,000 to 1.86 million. The unemployment rate remains at 5.7%.