UK unemployment in suprise fall to 1.86 million as wages outpace inflation

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Data from Office for National Statistics data showed the unemployment rate fell to 5.7%, beating expectations for it to hold steady at 5.8%.

Meanwhile, The number of people in work rose by 103,000 to just under 31 million in the three months through December.

In a boost for Prime Minister David Cameron’s election campaign, the ONS also said wages outstripped inflation by the most in several years in December.

Bonuses helped average weekly earnings rise 2.4% in annual terms at the end of the year, compared to 1.9% in the 12 months to November.


That was the fourth consecutive month that earnings by that measure rose faster than inflation after lagging for the previous five years.

Total pay, including bonuses, rose by a faster-than-expected 2.1% in the three-month period, compared with a gain of 1.8% in the September-November period.

The data follows the January reading of the consumer price index, which fell to 0.3% last month as lower oil prices feed through to consumers and surpermarkets continued to slash grocery prices.

Both David Cameron and George Osborne took to Twitter to say that the figures showed the economic recovery was filtering through to ordinary Britons.


Cameron tweeted: “The highest employment and lowest inflation rates are a key moment in our recovery. Let’s not put it at risk with Ed Miliband and Labour.”

While the Chancellor said the figures showed families were seeing the results of the Coalition’s economic plan.

Labour party, however, said previously that Britain remains in the grip of a cost-of-living crisis with wages still well below their level before the financial crisis when adjusted for inflation.

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls retweeted a statement from Shadow Employment Minister Stephen Timms that said that the fall in overall unemployment was welcome but the Tories “failing plan” had left working people £1,600 a year worse off since 2010.

“Low pay has left millions of working families struggling to make ends meet and has led to billions more spent on the housing benefit bill,” Timms said.

“Labour’s better plan for working families will raise the minimum wage, create more good jobs, build more homes, extend childcare and guarantee apprenticeships for every school leaver in England who gets the grades.”

Additional reporting by Reuters

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February 18, 2015 |
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