UK unemployment falls to 1.6 million

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UK unemployment fell by 52,000 to 1.6 million in the three months to November – the lowest level for more than a decade – official figures showed. The jobless rate was steady at an 11-year low of 4.8%, the Office for National Statistics said. The employment rate was steady at a record 74.5%, while wage growth picked up pace.

Average weekly earnings excluding bonuses increased by 2.7% compared with a year earlier. Growth in pay including bonuses rose 0.2 percentage points to 2.8% for the year to November. However, the number of people in work slipped by 9,000 to just over 31.8 million, the ONS said.

It was the second consecutive report to show a decline in the number of people in work – the first back-to-back fall since mid-2015. The number of full-time workers was 209,000 higher at 23.25 million people, while the total of part-time employees jumped 86,000 to 8.55 million. Employment minister Damian Hinds described the figures as encouraging and highlighted the “strength and resilience” of the UK labour market.

‘Moderate’ David Freeman, ONS senior statistician, said: “While employment is little changed on the quarter, the rate remains at an historic high.”
“The rate at which pay is increasing continues to pick up in cash terms, though it remains moderate,” he added.

The claimant count fell by 10,100 in December to 797,800.

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