Employment levels in the South East hit a new record high in December 2017, according to figures released by the Office for National Statistics.
The figures showed a record 80.1 per cent of people – 4.65 million – across the region were in work.
The female level and rate of employment also hit record highs with 2.2 million females in the South East – 75.6 per cent – in work, the figures revealed.
Local level data was unavailable in Hastings as the full service of universal credit was rolled out in December 2016.
The Department for Work and Pensions said the claimant count was likely to rise as universal credit covered a broader span of people to ‘encourage and support these individuals into work’.
Separate figures showed there are 700,000 people claiming universal credit in the UK, with 42 per cent of those in employment.
The figures released today by the Office for National Statistics also found the national employment rate reached a record high of 75.3 per cent.
A record 32.2 million people are now in work – 415,000 more than last year.
Unemployment for 2017 was also down to 3,000 in the quarter to the end of 2017 and at the lowest rate since 1975.
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Esther McVey, said: “We had a record-breaking 2017 for employment, and I’m delighted to see this trend continue as we enter the New Year.
“The number of people in work is at an all-time high and the unemployment rate has not been this low for over 40 years.
“At this time of year, straight after Christmas, people might be feeling a squeeze on their finances. We’re determined to help people keep more of what they earn.
“That’s why we’ve increased the National Living Wage, introduced Universal Credit to offer greater flexibility and taken millions of people out of income tax altogether by raising the tax-free personal allowance.”
In 2017, at least ten employment records were broken, according to the Department for Work and Pensions.
The employment rate, number of people in work, the number of women and black and minority ethnic people in work all reached record highs during the year, the figures showed.
Today’s employment figures also showed a record 810,000 vacancies in the economy at any one time.
Nationally, the number of people in employment has increased by more than three million since 2010 meaning the UK has the third highest employment rate in the G7.
The figures showed the number of workers aged 50 or more has reached a record ten million while youth unemployment has fallen by more than 40 per cent since 2010.