Unemployment sticks while wages grow

18 December 2014

The UK unemployment rate remained unchanged at 6% in the three months to 31 October while wages grew more than expected at 1.4%.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the number of unemployed workers in the UK fell by 63,000 to reach 1.96 million between August and October. This holds the unemployment rate at 6% for the second month in a row, slightly above analysts' estimates for a fall to 5.9%.

The ONS says that the number of working-age adults in employment reached 30.8 million, rising by 115,000 during the three months to 31 July with the large majority finding full-time, rather than part-time, work.

The employment rate is highest in the East and South East of England at 76.5% and lowest in Wales at 68.5%, while the unemployment rate remains highest in the North East at 9.1% of working age adults.

Significant development

Ben Brettell, senior economist at Hargreaves Lansdown, comments: "Hopes of a further fall in the unemployment rate were dashed; however, as usual the headline numbers mask some interesting detail.

"The UK's economic recovery has been criticised for creating more part-time jobs than full time, but of the 588,000 jobs created in the past 12 months, 560,000 were full time and just 28,000 part time."

In addition the ONS reports that the average UK wage including bonuses rose 0.2% more than expected to reach 1.4% during the three months to 31 October with the average UK worker now earning £483 per week.

This is the first time UK wages have been above the rate of inflation, which fell to 1% on Tuesday, for over five years.

Professor Geraint Johnes, director at Lancaster University's Work Foundation, describes the rise as a "significant development". "Weekly earnings are now up 1.8% on a year ago; well above the rate of price inflation. The increase has been particularly marked in finance and business services (3.0%), with earnings in the construction industry also rising quickly (2.7%).

"The recovery in finance comes on the back of a steady increase over the last three months. In manufacturing, however, the rate of growth of earnings has moderated somewhat, reflecting muted growth in the production sector," he says.

This article was written for our sister website Money Observer


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