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Britain’s unemployment rate stuck an 11-year low for the fourth consecutive month at the end of last year amid warnings the economy’s stellar jobs growth will finally begin to tail off in 2017.
The UK’s jobless rate remained at 4.8 per cent in the rolling three month period ending in December, with official figures also revealing an encouraging fall in the number of people claiming unemployment benefits in January.
Britain’s claimant count fell by 42,400 at the start of the year, defying forecasts of a rise of just under 1000. The total number of people in employment rose by 37,000 to a record high of 31.84 million.
Wage growth (excluding bonuses) slowed a tad to 2.6 per cent the three months to December, down from 2.7 per cent in the prior three-month period.
Economists fear that Britain’s economic resilience following the Brexit vote will begin to dissipate as higher inflation begins to erode the spending power of UK consumers. Annual inflation hit its highest since June 2014 last month at 1.8 per cent.
The Bank of England expects average inflation to hit 2.6 per cent this year – matching the current page of earnings growth.
Earlier this week, the European Commission said UK unemployment would rise over the next year but remain at reasonable levels of around 5.6 per cent on account of the country’s flexible hiring and firing laws.