UK Unemployment Rate Rises To 4.4%; Wage Growth Up 2.5%

UK workers

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.

Other figures revealed that 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.

The 0.1% increase didn't halt the total number of people in employment, however, with the figure rising to 88,000. "This change is within the LFS error margin".

Unemployment has risen in the East of England.

The Bank of England is anticipating a pick-up in wage growth soon - a key reason why it recently signalled that interest rates were likely to rise faster and to a greater extent than previously thought. "These figures simply look at the number of people in work and aren't a measure of migration".

Other figures revealed that average earnings increased by 2.5 per cent in the year to December, unchanged from the previous month.

However, the claimant count fell by 7,200 last month to 823,000, said the Office for National Statistics.

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The figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) sent the pound a cent lower against the U.S. dollar to just over $1.39.

The unemployment rate also rose to 4.4 percent as fewer workers were economically inactive.

"While stubbornly high inflation and signs of higher wage growth have increased the perceived likelihood of rates rising again, it's clear that policymakers will tread a cautious line amid the heightened uncertainty facing the United Kingdom economy as Brexit worries dominate", said IHS Markit economist, Chris Williamson.

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

The rise in the jobless rate and the increase in average earnings may undermine the case for the BOE to raise its benchmark interest rate in the months ahead.

Economist Ruth Gregory at Capital Economics said it was a "strong set of labour market figures should dispel concerns that the recent weakness was a sign of things to come".

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