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UK unemployment rate maintains decade low

In March, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that in the three-month period to January 2016 the number of people in the UK who were not in work but seeking and available to work, dropped to 1.68 million, down 28,000 from the previous quarter (Aug to Oct 2015).

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 Maintaining a ten-year low in percentage terms, the rate of unemployment was stable at 5.1%. The figures showed that a total of 31.42 million people were in employment, which represents an increase of 116,000 on the previous quarter and an increase of 478,000 compared with one year earlier.

Regionally the North East of England had the highest unemployment rate (7.8%); the lowest rate was recorded in the East of England (3.6%). The EU’s statistical agency, Eurostat, reported that in January the Eurozone’s unemployment rate fell to 10.3%, its lowest rate since August 2011.

Across the pond, the US Labor Department reported in March that 242,000 jobs were added in February, far exceeding the prediction of 190,000. The unemployment rate in the US is at an eight-year low of 4.9%.

From a wage growth perspective, ONS data showed a 2.1% increase in average weekly earnings including bonuses for employees in Great Britain, in the year to January.

It has been reported that Scott Bowman, UK economist at Capital Economics, stated that the UK’s job recovery remained in “full swing” but cautioned that wage growth was “still fairly subdued by past standards, especially considering how much the labour market has tightened recently”.

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