United Kingdom unemployment edges up to 4.4%

United Kingdom unemployment edges up to 4.4%

The number in unemployment rose by 46,000 to 1.47 million compared the previous three months.

"Rising employment this past year was largely driven by United Kingdom nationals" as fewer eastern Europeans and non-EU nationals were working than a year earlier, ONS statistician Matt Hughes said.

Elsewhere, the statistics agency found an uptick in wages, which could conversely harden the resolve of some rate-setters at the Bank of England to raise interest rates again, possibly as soon as May.

The UK has seen the sharpest increase in its unemployment rate in nearly five years, according to the latest data published by the Office for National Statistics. The rate was forecast to remain unchanged at 4.3 percent.

Excluding bonuses, earnings rose by 2.5 percent year on year against expectations for a 2.4 percent rise.

Other figures revealed that the number of non-UK nationals from outside the European Union working in this country fell by 68,000 to 1.17 million in the quarter to last December compared with the previous year. The unemployment rate has fallen by such a degree in recent years that some commentators have described the situation as Britain's "jobs miracle".

Ohio River continues to rise; will crest this afternoon
Forecasters are now predicting a crest on Tuesday at 54.5 feet, almost two feet above Friday's forecast. A seagull rests at Civitan Park in Belpre where the Ohio River has covered the area.

But Hughes pointed out: "Earnings continue to grow more slowly than prices".

The number of people in work fell for the first time since August 2016.

"While stubbornly high inflation and signs of higher wage growth have increased the perceived likelihood of rates rising again, it's clear that policymakers will tread a cautious line amid the heightened uncertainty facing the United Kingdom economy as Brexit worries dominate", said IHS Markit economist, Chris Williamson.

A further tranche of official data showed the Government recorded a better than expected budget surplus of £10bn in January - a traditionally bumper month boosted by a surge of income tax receipts.

But TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said the continued squeeze on real terms pay was "pushing families to the brink".

"While firms are reporting some upward pressure on pay settlements amid a very tight labour market, more subdued economic conditions together with high upfront business costs are likely to limit the extent to which wages are likely to rise", said Suren Thiru of the British Chambers of Commerce.

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