Maidstone, Kent, situated at a point where three large rivers meet, dates back to the Neolithic period and has been populated ever since.
It has a population of around 117,000 and although there has been an increase of 8.1% in unemployment in the last year, employment rates are around 79%, significantly greater than the national average.
Maidstone has had a past tradition of heavy industry and manufacturing, reflected by the rejuvenated existence of sites such as the Kent Engineering and Foundry, however more employment is now found within the service and retail industries, in construction, and white collar work.
Retail centres in Maidstone represent one of the five best shopping zones in the South-East.
Almost a third of the employed (both full time and part time) population in Maidstone staff Kent County Council, Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust, and various schools and colleges but the single highest employment group is within the skilled trades (18.7% of the workforce) and 70,000 people are employed in the private sector including those employed through recruitment agencies. A large number of construction companies are based in the town.
The average gross salary for workers living in Maidstone in 2012 was £488 per week or £25,376 p.a. although statistics show that women tend to take home approximately £91 per week less than men in comparable jobs.