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22 February 2018, 12:55 | Vickie Mathis
Employment numbers steady but wage growth stuck in neutral
The number of unemployed people increased by 46,000 to 1.47m in the three months to December, when compared with July to September 2017.
The ONS said the unemployment rate rose to 4.4 percent from 4.3 percent in the three months to December, the first increase since the three months to February 2016, and the number of jobless rose for a third monthly report in a row.
"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. They may also fuel speculation that the Bank of England could raise interest rates again as early as May after policy makers said the Brexit vote had lowered the pace the economy can grow without fanning inflation.
Britain's unemployment rate has risen for the first time in 16 months, official data showed Wednesday, in a sign that Brexit uncertainty is feeding into the wider economy.
British government bond prices rose and sterling briefly fell against the US dollar after Wednesday's figures showed the sharpest rise in the number of people out of work in nearly five years.
With consumer price inflation at 3.0%, the stubbornly low wage growth means household real incomes continue be squeezed.
At the same time while earnings have continued to grow more slowly than prices, new figures reveal. In particular, fewer citizens of the eastern European countries that joined the EU in 2004 and of non-EU countries were in work than in the year before.
In November, the official budget watchdog had forecast borrowing of 49.9 billion pounds (about $69 billion) for the full year.
TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: "Nobody should have to rely on a zero-hours contract for their main job, but over 900,000 workers remain stuck in that situation".
Economist Ruth Gregory at Capital Economics said it was a "strong set of labour market figures should dispel concerns that the recent weakness was a sign of things to come".
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