Sterling falls after United Kingdom jobless rate rises unexpectedly

Javier Stokes
February 22, 2018

The pound dropped to as low as $1.3927, down nearly half a percent on the day, after trading at $1.3972 before the data was released.

Norway jobless rate rose 0.1 percent to 4.1 percent in December from September after adjusted for seasonal variations, its statistics department release revealed.

Average weekly earnings excluding bonuses increased by 2.5 per cent compared to a year earlier, the ONS said.

"Rising employment this past year was largely driven by United Kingdom nationals". This is an improvement on the previous figure of 2.3%. This increase remained below inflation.

There is no evidence yet as to whether the latest fall is another apparent blip or the beginning of an upturn in joblessness - at a time when wider economic growth has been slowing.

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.

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"This is demonstrated by our Budget investments of nearly £2.4 billion in enterprise and skills and the most attractive package of non-domestic rates reliefs available anywhere in the United Kingdom, including the Small Business Bonus, worth £720 million, and the UK's first nursery relief".

Statisticians said the reason why both employment and unemployment increased at the same time was that the number of people deemed to be inactive declined. Rising employment in 2017 was driven by United Kingdom nationals, the ONS said.

That was a slight slowdown from 0.9% in the third quarter but combined, these represented the best two quarters for productivity since the 2008/9 recession.

General Secretary Grahame Smith said low pay, job insecurity and the impact of Brexit meant the outlook for workers was "extremely concerning".

Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit, said the labour market update contained "mixed messages" for Bank of England rate-setters.

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