BCN-14 UK unemployment rate hits 44-year low: official data

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UK unemployment rate hits 44-year low: official data

LONDON, March 19, 2019 (BSS/AFP) – The British unemployment rate has struck a
44-year low, official data showed Tuesday, despite a broader economic
slowdown as Brexit looms.

The jobless rate — or proportion of the workforce that is unemployed —
hit 3.9 percent in the three months to the end of January, the lowest level
since 1975, the Office for National Statistics said.

That followed 4.0 percent in the three months to December, the ONS added in
a statement, while expectations had been for no change.

The total number of unemployed people slid by 35,000 to 1.34 million in the
year to January, which was 112,000 lower than a year ago.

Economists said the labour market update painted a bright picture, despite
a slowing economy with Britain scheduled to leave the European Union next
week.

“A much stronger labour market report than expected — and particularly
impressive given recent slower UK economic activity, heightened Brexit
uncertainties and a weaker global economy,” said EY economist Howard Archer.

“The latest strong jobs data is somewhat surprising as some surveys had
indicated that a growing number of employers are now adopting a ‘wait-and-
see’ approach on employment given the current heightened uncertainties.”

The ONS added that wage growth continued to outpace inflation.

Average earnings including bonuses increased by 3.4 percent in the year to
January from a year earlier.

That handed another boost to the purchasing power of workers’ salaries.

BSS/AFP/SR/2100 HRS