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UK Unemployment Rate hits lowest rate in 10 years

The UK unemployment rate has fallen to its lowest rate in more than a decade but wage growth has slowed according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The rate hit 5.1% in the three months to November meaning unemployment is now at its lowest rate since the three-month period to October 2005.

Average weekly earnings, including bonuses, were up 2%, the slowest increase since February and down from the previous 2.4% rise.  The 2% growth in wages was also less than the 2.1% growth forecast in a Reuters survey.  Excluding bonuses, average weekly earnings growth slowed to 1.9% in the three months, the ONS said.

The number of people out of work fell by 99,000 to 1.68m in the three month period, putting the employment rate at 74% – the highest since comparable records began in 1971.  The report comes a day after Bank of England governor Mark Carney ruled out an early rise in interest rates because of the turmoil in the global economy and weaker UK growth.  A sustained improvement in wage growth was one of the factors he said would help the Bank to gauge when to raise rates.

Today’s figures show that almost 23m people are now in a full-time job, 436,000 more than a year earlier, while 8.4m are working part-time, up by 152,000.  The number of workers in part-time jobs wanting a full-time post is 1.2m, down by 21,000 in the latest three months. Economic inactivity, counting people on long-term sick leave, looking after a relative or who have given up looking for work, fell by 93,000 to just under 9m, the lowest since the spring of 2014. The inactivity rate for women reached a record low of 27%.