Unemployment in Dover and Deal has dropped below the UK average to its lowest level since records began. Official labour market figures published last week show there were only around 2,000 unemployed people last year or 3.5% of the constituency. That compares to 4.4% across the UK last year, and 10.7% (4,800) in Dover and Deal in 2010. It represents the area's lowest level since the Office for National Statistics began recording the data in 2004.
Back in 2010 I pledged to bring more money and jobs to Dover and Deal. These figures show just how much progress has been made. For decades we were near the bottom of the tables for employment levels – much higher than the UK average. Now it's the opposite.
In the meantime we have seen ugly, derelict buildings knocked down and a shopping and cinema complex rise up in their place. On top of that, wage growth is now ahead of inflation. It's clear that the economic plan is working. We are on the road to a much brighter future for our area. Yet we must keep going.
The total number of economically inactive people has also dropped – from 15,900 (27.1%) in 2015 to 13,700 (23%) last year. Jobseeker's Allowance claimants in Dover district dropped 58.8% from 2,500 in February 2010 to 1,030 in November 2016, when they stopped counting ahead of Universal Credit. According to the International Labour Organisation's measure, the unemployment rate in Dover and Deal dropped from 8.3% in 2010 to 4.8% last year.
Job prospects in Dover and Deal have massively improved, in both quantity and quality. We have worked incredibly hard in recent years to bring more than £400 million of investment to our area. We are closing in on that bright future we all want.
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