Figures show employment and unemployment down

THE local employment rate has crashed to its lowest levels since records began, though unemployment rates in Tunbridge Wells have also dropped to one of the lowest in Kent.

In figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) last week (January 17), the percentage of those who are employed in Tunbridge Wells dropped dramatically to 68.7 per cent in September 2022, from 83.4 per cent in June 2021 – the lowest rate on record since 2004.

However, unemployment in the borough fell to 2.2 per cent, one of the lowest rates in the county, following Tonbridge and Malling on 2.1 per cent and Sevenoaks on 2 per cent, while the national unemployment rate is now 3.7 per cent.

People who are economically inactive in Tunbridge Wells – students, carers, the retired, those with long-term illness, or stay-at-home parents – constitute 25.8 per cent. That’s slightly higher than the national average of 21.5 per cent.

There are 6,245 businesses in Tunbridge Wells, with 90.6% of those being micro-businesses and only 10 being large businesses with over 250 employees.

Of those who are employed, 65.4 per cent work full-time, while 34.6 per cent work part-time – similar to the national average of 68.1 per cent full-time and 31.9 per cent part-time.

Most employees in Tunbridge Wells work in the highest-paid occupation group, with 65.2 per cent working as managers, directors and senior officials, including professionals and associate professional occupations.

This is much higher than the national average of 51.8 per cent working in higher paid professions.

Meanwhile, 14 per cent of workers in Tunbridge Wells were recorded as working in administrative or skilled trade jobs, while 20.9 per cent are thought to be in the lower skilled and manual jobs such as caring, leisure, sales, service, and machine-operating jobs.

The ONS also showed that pay rose nationally by 6.4 per cent in the three months leading up to November 2022 – although with inflation at 10.7 per cent, this represents a real-term pay drop of 2.6 per cent.

The average weekly wage of someone working full-time in Tunbridge Wells is £676.70, which is £34.50 more a week than the national average of £642.20.

Those on an hourly wage, excluding overtime, earn £17.69 on average in Tunbridge Wells, while for the rest of the country, the average person earns £16.37.

Women in Tunbridge Wells were paid on average £129.20 less than men per week in full-time work, with female earners being paid £612.90 a week while their male counterparts earn £742.10.

In comparison, this disparity is greater than the national average, where women earn £103 less a week than men.

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