Thursday, 21 February, 2019

UK unemployment dips to lowest rate since 1975

Reuters Reuters
Orlando Vargas | 17 May, 2017, 14:20

AIRFARES SWING IN EASTER The latest inflation figures were boosted most of all by rising airfares during the Easter holidays which past year took place in March.

The ONS estimates that output per hour fell by 0.5 per cent in the first three months of the year, following a 0.4 per cent expansion in the final quarter of 2016.

"The economy has surprised on the upside since last summer's referendum, powered by a resilient consumer, but it looks like households are now starting to feel the pinch from the current bout of inflation".

The fall in unemployment also takes the jobless rate closer to the 4.5 percent that the central bank estimates is the level that can be sustained without generating inflation. Relative to other countries, and relative to the past, this is a stand-out success.

Productivity growth is crucial to long-term improvements in wages and living standards, so the poor performance in the United Kingdom, and many developed economies, is a concern to analysts and policymakers. Headline wages rise by 2.4% y/y, as expected. "The last thing Britain needs is another real wage slump".

In its latest forecasts the Bank predicted unemployment will fall to 4.5 per cent by 2020, indicating its economists believe there is still some way to go before employees start demanding higher wages.

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"As a result, the forthcoming squeeze on real wage growth should be nowhere near as severe or prolonged as that seen after the financial crisis".

However, the Bank also projected nominal average wages to pick up to a growth rate of 3.5 per cent next year. The unemployment rate fell to 4.6 percent, the lowest since 1975. The figure was 386,000 higher than in the corresponding period previous year and well above analysts' expectations for an 21,000 gain.

Economic growth slowed in the first quarter but the labor market performed reasonably well.

A separate study by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development said employers expected to increase pay by just 1% in the coming year.

Consumer prices increased in April by 2.7 percent compared with a year earlier, the Office for National Statistics said, slightly above economists' expectation for a 2.6 percent annual rise in a Reuters poll.


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