The number of people out of work and claiming benefit in Britain fell for the 17th successive time last month. The labour market held up in the face of the global crunch according to figures released from the office for National Statistics.
This month’s figures show an increase in both the number of people in employment and the employment rate. The number of unemployed people, the unemployment rate, and the claimant count has all fallen. The number of vacancies has increased. Growth in average earnings excluding bonuses is unchanged but earnings growth including bonuses has fallen.
Government figures showed that the claimant count measure of unemployment dropped by 2,800 to 793,500 – its lowest level since 1975. The unemployment rate was down 5.2 per cent, down 0.1 percentage point from the previous quarter.
The number of people in full-time employment was 21.9 million in the three months to January 2008, up by 58,000. The number of people in part-time employment was 7.56 million, up by 108,000. There were 31.62 million workforce jobs, up by 13,000 over the quarter and up by 208,000 on a year earlier. The sector showing the largest annual increase was Finance & Business Services, which increased by 149,000.
This data will be welcomed by the nine members Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) but will still remain cautious, dampening expectations of back-to-back interest rate cuts, along with the sharp increase in the price of oil, wholesale gas, and food threatening to push the inflation rate significantly above target.
Today’s labour market data, however, provided no evidence that more expensive food and energy were prompting a surge in wages and salaries to compensate for a rising cost of living. Following the recent anxiety about the global credit crunch on UK banks also, it is now predicted that the Bank of England will cut interest rates next month.
Editor: Simon Weston-www.myfirsthomeltd.co.uk
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