Dorchester town centre is sited about 55 to 80 metres (180 to 262 ft) above sea-level on gently sloping ground beside the south bank of the River Frome. Measured directly, it is about 7 miles (11 km) north of Weymouth, 18 miles (29 km) SSE of Yeovil in Somerset, and 20 miles (32 km) west of Poole. The town's built-up area extends south, west and southeast of the town centre; to the north and northeast growth is restricted by the floodplain and watermeadows of the river.
In 2012 there were 17,500 people working in Dorchester, 51% of whom were working full-time. 57% of jobs were in public administration, education and health, 18% were in professional and market services (including finance and ICT), 17% were in distribution, accommodation and food, 4% were in production and 2% in construction. The unemployment rate in July 2014 was 0.9% of residents aged 16–64.
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