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UK employment rises as wage growth slows

Written by: Paloma Kubiak
The number of people in work rose in the three months to January 2017 but wage growth slowed, official statistics reveal. 

The employment rate for the period was 74.6%, the highest since comparable records began in 1971, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

There were 31.85 million people in work during November 2016 and January 2017, 92,000 more than the preceding three months and 315,000 more than recorded in the previous year. The rise has been fuelled by more full-time workers and fewer women retiring between the ages of 60 and 65.

Unemployment over the three months was 4.7% down from 5.1% recorded a year earlier, with a total of 1.58 million people not in work. This level is 31,000 fewer than for the three months to October 2016 and 106,000 fewer than for a year earlier.

Wage growth dipped to 2.2% (2.3% excluding bonuses) which was lower than the growth rate of 2.6% between October and December 2016.

It takes average regular pay (excluding bonuses) for employees in the UK to £477 per week before tax, up from £468 a year earlier.

Ian Kernohan, economist at Royal London Asset Management, said: “Aside from the weakness in pay growth, this was a robust set of numbers.

“Regular pay growth was disappointing at just 2.3%, and with inflation rising, a squeeze on real household incomes is a major reason why we expect economic growth to slow this year. We expect the MPC to keep interest rates on hold until 2019 at the earliest.”

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