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UK unemployment rate falls to lowest since April 2008

The UK unemployment rate fell to a seven-year low of 5.3% in the three months to September, new figures show.

It was the lowest jobless rate since the second quarter of 2008, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

The number of people out of work fell by 103,000 between July and September to 1.75 million.

There were 31.21 million people in work, 177,000 more than for the April-to-June quarter and 419,000 more than in the same period a year earlier.

‘Strengthening trend’

ONS statistician Nick Palmer said: “These figures continue the recent strengthening trend in the labour market, with a new record high in the employment rate and the unemployment rate still at its lowest level since spring 2008.”

The claimant count increased for the third month in a row, up by 3,300 in October to 795,500. That figure counts people on Jobseeker’s Allowance and those on the out of work element of Universal Credit.

The number of people classed as economically inactive fell by 22,000, to just under nine million in the latest period, the lowest for more than a year.

These include students, those on long-term sick leave, people looking after a relative, or those who are no longer looking for work.

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Wage growth

The ONS also said the total earnings of workers, including bonuses, in the three months to September was up 3% from a year earlier, the same rate as in the three months to August.

In September, total wages rose by 2.0%, down from 3.2% the previous month and the weakest increase since February.

Excluding bonuses, average weekly earnings growth slowed to 2.5% in the third quarter and 1.9% in September, both the weakest since the first quarter of 2015.

Chris Williamson, chief economist at research firm Markit, said: “The UK labour market continued to tighten in September as unemployment fell more than expected and employment rose sharply. Pay growth remained surprisingly weak, however, despite further evidence of growing skill shortages, which normally leads to higher salaries.

“Pay growth remains central to policymaking, and interest rates are likely to stay on hold for as the official data show pay growth remaining subdued. Today’s data therefore support the Bank’s current projections that there will be no need to raise interest rates until 2017 due to persistent low inflation.”

Source:https://www.bbc.com

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