UK job­less claims fall less than forecast


UK job­less claims fell less than econ­o­mists forecast in Fe­bru­ary and a wider mea­sure of un­em­ploy­ment rose for the first time in a year as the num­ber of young peo­ple look­ing for work climbed.

Un­em­ploy­ment claims fell 1,500 from Jan­uary to 1.54 mil­lion, the Of­fice for Na­tional Statis­tics said to­day in Lon­don. The me­dian forecast of 27 econ­o­mists in a Bloomberg sur­vey was for a drop of 5,000. In the quar­ter through Jan­uary, un­em­ploy­ment as mea­sured by In­ter­na­tional Labour Or­gan­i­sa­tion meth­ods rose by 7,000 to 2.52 mil­lion, the first in­crease since Jan­uary 2012. Wages grew at the slow­est pace since 2009.

The fig­ures are a blow to Chan­cel­lor of the Ex­che­quer Ge­orge Os­borne as he pre­pares to de­liver an­other aus­tere bud­get to­day. They sug­gest the la­bor mar­ket is slow­ing as the econ­omy risks fall­ing into a third re­ces­sion in five years. Un­em­ploy­ment among 16-24year-olds rose 48,000 in the three months through Jan­uary, the big­gest in­crease for al­most 1 1/2 years.

"We sus­pect that un­em­ploy­ment will rise mod­estly later on in 2013," Howard Archer, an econ­o­mist at IHS Global In­sight in Lon­don, said be­fore the data was re­leased. "It looks touch and go whether the econ­omy will man­age to avoid fur­ther con­trac­tion in the first quar­ter of 2013 and we doubt that growth over the year as a whole will be strong enough to pre­vent un­em­ploy­ment mov­ing up." Con­strained by his self­im­posed bud­get-cut­ting tar­gets, Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron is urg­ing the Bank of Eng­land to sup­port the re­cov­ery by pur­su­ing an "ac­tivist" mon­e­tary pol­icy. Min­utes of the Mon­e­tary Pol­icy Com­mit­tee's March 6-7 meet­ing showed Gov­er­nor Mervyn King was de­feated for a sec­ond month in a vote to ex­pand stim­u­lus as the ma­jor­ity of pol­icy mak­ers said more bond pur­chases may erode their cred­i­bil­ity and push the pound lower.

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