United Kingdom unemployment edges up to 4.4%

Office for National Statistics

Office for National Statistics

The headline unemployment rate for the three months to December rose to 4.4% from 4.3% a month earlier, at which level it was expected to remain.

British government bond prices rose and sterling briefly fell against the USA dollar after Wednesday's figures showed the sharpest rise in the number of people out of work in nearly five years. "This change is within the LFS error margin".

"However, while pay growth appears to be perking up, there are other signs that the labour market is starting to cool", he said, with the unemployment rate rising and the number of unemployed rising for a third successive month, though this was linked to fewer people seeking employment, rather than redundancies.

Average earnings increased by 2.5% in the year to December, unchanged from the previous month, said the Office for National Statistics.

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The claimant count, which includes people on Jobseeker's Allowance and the unemployment element of Universal Credit, fell by 7,200 last month to 823,000. "These figures simply look at the number of people in work and aren't a measure of migration".

The rate of unemployment rose in the three months to December, although wages rose by more than expected, government statisticians said today.

"Meanwhile, inflation remains stubbornly high, with last week's CPI figure showing inflation stuck at 3%".

Average wages also grew by an average of 2.5 per cent, up from 2.4 per cent the previous month, ONS added.

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The UK's unemployment level has unexpectedly risen by the biggest amount in nearly five years, official figures show.

The figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) sent the pound a cent lower against the USA dollar to just over $1.39. The number of Eastern European workers fell.

"This is the sharpest increase in the unemployment level the ONS has seen in nearly five years", said Matt Hughes, a senior statistician from the ONS.

"The latest labour market data aren't a decisive blow to the chances of a May rate hike - two more (jobless) reports will be published before then - but they do reduce the odds", said Samuel Tombs, economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.

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