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Financial News: UK Jobless Rate At 42-Year Low; Employment At

UK Jobless Rate At 42-Year Low; Employment At Record High

01/24/2018 - 07:11:00 (RTTNews)

(RTTNews) - The UK unemployment rate held steady at the lowest level in 42 years in November and employment rose to a record, reflecting a resilient labor market.

The jobless rate was 4.3 percent in the three months to November, the same rate as in the quarter to August, data from the Office for National Statistics showed Wednesday. This was the joint lowest figure since 1975.

In the same period of 2016, the unemployment rate stood at 4.8 percent. The latest rate matched economists' expectations.

The number of people out of work totaled 1.44 million, which was little changed compared with the June to August period.

At the same time, the employment rate rose to 75.3 percent from 74.5 percent a year ago. The rate was the joint highest since records began in 1971. The number of employed increased by 102,000 from August to a record 32.21 million.

Average weekly earnings excluding bonuses increased 2.4 percent annually, the highest in almost a year. Including bonuses, earnings grew 2.5 percent.

Nonetheless, the increase in annual earnings lags behind inflation. In November, headline inflation was 3.1 percent.

The inactivity rate fell to a record low 21.2 percent in the three months to November. There were 810,000 vacancies, the highest since records began in 2001.

"Demand for workers clearly remained strong," ONS statistician David Freeman said.

"Nevertheless inflation remains higher than pay growth and so the real value of earnings continues to decline," he said.

The latest labor market figures provided further reassurance that the economy held up in the fourth quarter of last year, Paul Hollingsworth, an economist at Capital Economics, said.

With survey indicators suggesting that jobs and wage growth should continue to pick up, the economist expects the Bank of England to raise interest rates by more than markets think this year.

In December, the number of people claiming unemployment benefits rose by 8,600, raising the claimant count to 2.4 percent, which was the highest since February 2015.

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