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UK Jobless Rate At 43-Year Low; Real Wages Increase


The UK unemployment rate remained unchanged at a 43-year low and real wages increased amid falling unemployment in the first quarter, the Office for National Statistics said Tuesday.

The ILO jobless rate remained at 4.2 percent in the first quarter, but down from 4.6 percent a year ago. This was the joint lowest since 1975.

The number of unemployed decreased by 46,000 to 1.42 million in the first quarter.

At the same time, the employment rate was 75.6 percent, the highest since comparable records began in 1971.

In the first quarter, average earnings excluding bonuses advanced 2.9 percent, the highest since 2015. In the same period, inflation averaged 2.7 percent.

At the same time, earnings of employees including bonuses grew 2.6 percent from the last year.

March's labor market figures provide optimism that sustained rises in real pay are in prospect and will place more pressure on the Bank of England to hike interest rates soon, Ruth Gregory, an economist at Capital Economics, said.

If the economy bounces back from the weather-related weakness in the first quarter as expected, then an August interest rate hike seems more likely than not, the economist noted.

Data showed that the claimant count rose slightly to 2.5 percent in April from 2.4 percent in March. The number of people claiming unemployment benefits increased by more than 31,000.

Flash productivity data from ONS showed that output per hour decreased 0.5 percent in the first quarter, reversing a 0.7 percent rise in the previous quarter. Output per worker also fell 0.5 percent.

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