UK unemployment rate broadly static

16th December 2016

The unemployment rate in Britain has remained largely static in the three months to October, with 16,000 fewer unemployed, down to 1.62 million, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

However, the largely static jobs market also indicates that it’s showing signs of stalling as the impact of the EU referendum begins to take hold.

The employment rate for Q3 2016 stood at 74.4%, meanwhile the number of people claiming unemployment benefits increased by 2,400 in November to 809,000.

John Philpott, employment expert and director at The Jobs Economist, revealed a rise in public sector roles was not enough to offset a drop in private sector employment.

“The UK labour market finally appears to be suffering a bout of post-Brexit vote blues, which is now hitting recruitment. The UK labour market looks to have entered a somewhat slower time.”

More positively, average pay growth improved to 2.6% from 2.4%, inclusive of bonuses. Yet the number of 16-64-year-olds “economically inactive” i.e. out of work and neither seeking nor able to work increased by 76,000 in Q3 2016 to 8.9 million.

David Freeman, senior statistician at ONS, said: “The labour market appears to have flattened off in recent months.

“While the employment rate remains high, it is slightly down on the record set recently. Meanwhile, a small fall in unemployment on the quarter was more than offset by a rise in economic inactivity.”

Rachel Smith, principal labour market adviser, Confederation of British Industry (CBI), said: “We see a mixed picture from the labour market over the last three months, with employment levels remaining more or less the same and unemployment seeing a slight drop.

“Although wage growth has gone up somewhat, so has inflation, hitting workers’ pay packets in real terms.

“Boosting productivity in every region and nation of the UK will be essential if firms are to further raise wages sustainably for their employees.”

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