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.