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Unemployment in Britain falls between May and July

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Unemployment in the UK fell by 39,000 to 1.63 million in the three months to July, while wage growth also fell slightly, official figures show.

The unemployment rate for the period was 4.9%, which was unchanged from last month’s reading but down from 5.5% a year earlier, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The employment rate – the proportion of people aged 16 to 64 in work – was 74.5%, the joint highest since records began in 1971.

There were 31.77 million people in work, 174,000 more than for February to April 2016 and 559,000 more than for a year earlier.

Wage growth rose by just 2.1% in the three months to July, down from 2.3% a month ago.

Ben Brettell, senior economist at Hargreaves Lansdown, said this is the latest piece of evidence which shows the economy has fared better than expected since June’s EU referendum but that the real picture will become clear over the next few months.

“A Manpower Group survey released yesterday showed that employers’ hiring intentions were on the wane in the key financial and business services, construction and utilities sectors. However, these was balanced by more positive news from other areas of the economy.

“The post-referendum landscape has been characterised by surveys forecasting a sharp weakening of activity, which have thus far failed to appear in the hard data. I suspect that the majority of businesses and consumers have concluded that except for the weaker pound, not much has changed since 23 June, and it’s largely business as usual – for now at least.”

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