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Unemployment falls to 11-year low

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The unemployment rate fell to 5% in the three months to April, the lowest since 2005, according to official figures.

There were 1.67 million unemployed people during this period, 20,000 fewer than for the three months to January 2016, and 148,000 fewer than a year earlier, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

The total number of people in work rose by 55,000, with the employment rate reaching 74.2%, the joint highest since records began in 1971.

Average weekly earnings increased by 2% including bonuses and by 2.3% excluding bonuses compared with a year earlier.

Ben Brettell, senior economist, Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “Some unexpected good news amidst Brexit-related uncertainty – the UK labour market remains in good health despite a wider economic slowdown ahead of the referendum.

“The economy continues to add jobs, and wage growth is running ahead of consumer price inflation, which held steady yesterday at 0.3%. Today’s data will go some way to allay fears that businesses have been delaying decisions about hiring and investment until after the EU vote.”

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