UK Wage Growth Remains Strong, Jobless Rate Lowest Since 1974

The UK wage growth remained strong in the first quarter as the jobless rate hit its lowest since 1974, data from the Office for National Statistics revealed Tuesday.

Average earnings excluding bonuses increased 3.3 percent annually in three months to March, close to its post-financial crisis high. At the same time, earnings including bonuses climbed 3.2 percent.

The ILO jobless rate came in at 3.8 percent in the first quarter, while the rate was expected to remain unchanged at 3.9 percent. The rate has not been lower since last quarter of 1974, the ONS said.

In the three months to March, the number of people who were unemployed decreased by 65,000 to 1.3 million. This was the largest quarterly decrease since September to November 2016.

At the same time, the employment rate came in at 76.1 percent, the joint-highest since comparable records began in 1971. The number of people in employment increased 99,000 on quarter to 32.70 million.

However, Andrew Wishart, an economist at Capital Economics, said the continued strength of employment in the first quarter probably reflects heightened economic activity as firms brought forward purchases and output in preparation for a possible no-deal Brexit.

Now that risk has passed, activity and employment growth are likely to soften, Wishart added.

In April, the number of people claiming jobseekers’ allowances increased by 24,700 from March, ONS reported.

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