UK unemployment remains flat as wage increase slows

Recent figures have shown  that unemployment has remained mostly unchanged in the UK in the three months leading up to December. The growth in average wages slowed slightly compared to last month’s figures.

The official figures that were released on Wednesday showed that there was 7000 less people registered as unemployed between October and December 2016 but the figure did remain flat at 4.8%.

There was almost 32 million adults employed over the three month period which was an increase of 300,000 in comparison to the same time last year. Another positive point, is that the total number of people claiming unemployment was just under 1.6 million people. This is the lowest level it has been since the start of 2006.

The wage growth has decreased by 0.2% compared to last month where it stood at 2.6%.

The senior statistician at ONS David Freeman stated

“Continued moderate growth in employment has led to a new high in the total employment rate, while the rate for women has reached 70% for the first time on record. Overall, the labour market appears to be edging towards full capacity.”

Some analysts are concerned with the decline in wage growth as inflation in Britain is continuing to rise. This puts pressure on companies to raise prices on everyday items such as food and petrol. There were statistics that were published on Tuesday that showed UK inflation has now reached 1.8% and some economists suggest that this could surge to 2.8% in the coming months.

Howard Archer, chief UK economist at IHS Global Insight said inflation was likely to move above growth in earnings during the course of the year which will put increased pressure on consumer spending. He stated “Slowing earnings growth adds to the squeeze on consumers that is likely to increasingly weigh down on economic activity. Indeed, consumers’ purchasing power is now being markedly diluted. We suspect that in a likely challenging environment, companies will increasingly look to hold down pay to try and limit their total costs as the weakened pound pushes up their input costs.”

This data comes from a report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and warns of the tough times that are facing “just managing families” as inflation is biting into household budgets. It said that the number of people who are living below an adequate standard of living had risen by 4 million to 19 million over the past 6 years.

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