UK job­less to­tal rises by 25,000


UK un­em­ploy­ment in the April to June pe­riod was 1.85 mil­lion, up 25,000 from the pre­vi­ous quar­ter.

The job­less to­tal had also risen in the three months to May, and it is the first time in two years that there have been two con­sec­u­tive rises. The Of­fice for Na­tional Sta­tis­tics (ONS) fig­ures also in­di­cated that earn­ings growth is slow­ing.

Earn­ings in­clud­ing bonuses rose 2.4% from a year ago, com­pared with 3.2% growth in the March to May pe­riod. Ex­clud­ing bonuses, pay was up 2.8% in the April to June pe­riod, un­changed from the pre­vi­ous fig­ure.

ONS statis­ti­cian David Free­man said: "This is now the sec­ond con­sec­u­tive time we've re­ported fewer peo­ple in work on the quar­ter. "While it's too early to con­clude that the jobs mar­ket is lev­el­ling off, these fig­ures cer­tainly strengthen that pos­si­bil­ity. Growth in pay, how­ever, re­mains solid."

John Hawksworth, the PwC's chief economist, said even though em­ploy­ment had fallen back, reg­u­lar pay and pro­duc­tiv­ity were grow­ing.

"Over­all the pic­ture is one of a con­tin­u­ing eco­nomic re­cov­ery, led by pri­vate sec­tor ser­vices. But the bal­ance of growth be­tween jobs and pro­duc­tiv­ity seems to be shift­ing, which could be good news if it makes the up­turn more sus­tain­able." While the growth in earn­ings still re­mains well above the rate of in­fla­tion, the weaker-than-ex­pected pay fig­ure pushed the value of the pound down.

Wage growth is one fac­tor the Bank of Eng­land has been keep­ing a close eye on as it con­sid­ers when to in­crease UK in­ter­est rates.

Chris Wil­liamson, chief economist at Markit said "doves" on the Mon­e­tary Pol­icy Com­mit­tee may see the labour mar­ket data as con­fir­ma­tion that the econ­omy has started to slow, but he puts it down to skill short­ages. "Some of the weak­en­ing in the em­ploy­ment trend is sim­ply due to com­pa­nies be­ing un­able to find suit­able staff as skill short­ages be­come in­creas­ingly preva­lent. Re­cruit­ment agen­cies con­tinue to re­port a marked wors­en­ing of staff avail­abil­ity. Note also that the of­fi­cial data showed job va­can­cies ris­ing in June to one of the high­est on record, which his hardly a sign of weak­en­ing de­mand for staff."

The ONS fig­ures showed there were 31.03 mil­lion peo­ple in work dur­ing the quar­ter, down 63,000 from the Jan­uary to March pe­riod but up 354,000 from a year ear­lier. The em­ploy­ment rate - the pro­por­tion of peo­ple aged 16 to 64 in work - was 73.4%, up from 72.8% a year ago.

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