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Wage growth tops expectations as unemployment falls again

Wage growth tops expectations as unemployment falls again

Latest figures from the Official for National Statistics (ONS) show above forecast wage growth in the three months to April. Pay rose by 3.4% compared with a year ago. After taking inflation into account, wage growth was 1.4%.

The news accompanied another fall in unemployment which dropped by 34,000 to 1.3m in the three months to April. The unemployment rate remained at 3.8% and has not been lower since the October to December 1974 period, the ONS said. The number of people in work increased by 32,000 to 32.75m. The employment rate for women was 72%, the highest on record.

The rise in employment was the weakest since August and was significantly down on the average 167,000 recorded in the first quarter, although it continued to show that the UK jobs market was defying the worst fears over Brexit.

John Hawksworth, chief economist at PricewaterhouseCoopers, said: “The rate of increase in the latest three months was slower than in most previous quarters, which may be a sign that Brexit-related uncertainty is beginning to make companies more cautious about new hiring.”

John Philpott of the Jobs Economist consultancy said the rise in employment masked a drop of 38,000 in the number of workers employed by a company, with self-employed people accounting for the entire net rise. “A closer look at the figures offers a slightly different story,” he said.

Tej Parikh, chief economist at the Institute of Directors, said: “The buoyant labour market is still going strong for the UK economy, even as it weathers widespread political uncertainty.”

“However, the employment boom cannot last forever, and is certainly showing signs of softening.”