Britain's Jobless Rate Rises, to 4.4%, for First Time in 2 Years

22 February, 2018, 00:59 | Author: Gladys Mathis
  • Employment numbers steady but wage growth stuck in neutral

The number of workers on zero-hours contracts in their main job fell by 4,000 to 901,000 in the quarter to last December compared with the previous year.

Households lost spending power past year because of a jump in inflation, caused by the fall in the pound after the British vote to exit the European Union.

The headline rate rose by 0.1 percentage points to 4.4 per cent, up from 4.3 per cent, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), although unemployment has actually been rising over the past three months if measured to a higher degree of precision.

ONS statistician Matt Hughes said: "While this is the sharpest increase in the unemployment level ONS has seen in nearly five years, the number of people in work has continued to rise and there are fewer economically inactive people".

The number of unemployed people increased by 46,000 to 1.47m in the three months to December, when compared with July to September 2017.

The number of non-UK nationals from outside the European Union working in this country fell by 68,000 to 1.17 million in the quarter to last December compared with the previous year. They may also fuel speculation that the Bank of England could raise interest rates again as early as May after policy makers said the Brexit vote had lowered the pace the economy can grow without fanning inflation. That marked the strongest two quarters for productivity since the 2008-9 recession, the O.N.S. said.

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United Kingdom pay growth is still slower than inflation, which is running at 3 percent.

United Kingdom average weekly earnings for the three months to December remained 2.5% higher than the same period a year before for the third consecutive reading, as expected, though it jumped by 2.8% if the month of December was taken alone.

The ONS attributed the rise in unemployment to a fall in the number of people who are neither working nor looking for a job.

Growth in employment has been one of the bright spots in Britain's economy since the financial crisis but as in many other countries pay growth has been anemic.

Unemployment in the United Kingdom unexpectedly rose between October and December past year, according to new data released by the Office for National Statistics on Wednesday. Separate ONS figures showed finance minister Philip Hammond likely to meet his target for cutting Britain's budget deficit this year with room to spare.

The independent Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) said it meant borrowing for the fiscal year to the end of March would come in lower than it had previously forecast "by a significant margin".



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