United Kingdom employment rises but wage growth erratic


A record 32.2 million people are now in work - 415,000 more than past year.

Debbie Abrahams, Labour's shadow work and pensions secretary, said that despite the small increase in wage growth millions of people remain trapped in low pay and insecure work "while the cost of basic essentials soars".

The jobless rate is 4.9%, an increase of 0.8% in the three months to November - the highest proportional rise of any nation and region.

The number of people in employment in the United Kingdom jumped to a joint record high in November, but there was still scant sign of a serious pick-up in wages, according to the latest official data - highlighting the dilemma for the Bank of England over raising interest rates.

Data from the Office for National Statistics showed that unemployment had dropped to 112,000 between September and November. The unemployment rate was in line with expectations of economists polled by The Wall Street Journal.

The month-on-month figures are notoriously volatile, but they indicate that despite rising vacancy rates, employers are not using higher wages as a recruitment tool.

At the same time, the employment rate rose to 75.3 percent from 74.5 percent a year ago.

The figures showed the number of workers aged 50 or more has reached a record ten million while youth unemployment has fallen by more than 40 per cent since 2010.

Average earnings also increased by 2.5% in the year to November, unchanged from the previous month, although pay is still growing at less than the rate of inflation.

Over the same period, the unemployment rate across the United Kingdom as whole was 4.3%, while in Northern Ireland it fell to 3.8% and in Wales it rose slightly to 4.9%. Job vacancies also rise by 17,000 to a record 810,000.

Economist Sam Tombs at Pantheon Macroeconomics noted that while three-month wage growth improved, the month of November saw wage growth fall to 2.3%.

"Nevertheless inflation remains higher than pay growth and so the real value of earnings continues to decline", ONS statistician David Freeman said.

In December, the number of people claiming unemployment benefits rose by 8,600, raising the claimant count to 2.4 percent, which was the highest since February 2015.

However the increases are still below consumer price inflation at 3.1pc in November, leaving real wages lower than in the previous year.