The number of people signing on the dole in the county has fallen to just one per cent of the working population for the first time in more than five years.

Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show 4,361 claimed Jobseeker’s Allowance in March, a fall of 266 on the previous month.

It represents the lowest total since July 2008 with 2,729 fewer people claiming the benefit than at the same time last year.

Nationally, the claimant count fell by 30,400 in March to 1.14 million, the 17th consecutive monthly reduction.

Total unemployment including those not claiming the benefit fell by 77,000 in the three months to February to 2.24 million, a jobless rate of 6.9 per cent, the lowest for five years.