Wednesday 20 March 2019

UK unemployment falls at fastest rate for years

Svenja O'Donnell

UK unemployment fell at its fastest pace in three years in June, adding to evidence the economic recovery is gaining momentum.

Jobless claims fell 21,200 from May to 1.48 million, the biggest drop since June 2010, the Office for National Statistics in London said yesterday.

Unemployment as measured by International Labour Organisation standards fell 57,000 to 2.51 million in the three months through May. The rate was unchanged at 7.8pc.

The figures will provide a further boost to prime minister David Cameron, whose Conservative party has gained in opinion polls as the economy shows signs of returning to growth.

With a general election less than two years away, the government is counting on private companies to keep hiring as hundreds of thousands more public-sector jobs are axed to help narrow the budget deficit.

"The prospects for the labour market are looking more favourable," said Howard Archer, an economist at HIS Global Insight in London.

"We anticipate that employment in the private sector will gradually pick up, but this is likely to be countered in the near term at least by an expanding labour force and by further job losses in the public sector."

Britain's economic growth probably quickened in the second quarter to 0.6pc, the fastest pace in almost a year, the National Institute of Economic and Social Research said last week. Recent surveys of services, manufacturing and construction all strengthened in June.

Government measures to help support home buyers are also having an effect, spurring house prices and boosting confidence.

Still, yesterday's report underlined the pressure on households, with average earning growing just 1.7pc in the three months through May at a time when inflation is running at 2.9pc. Excluding bonuses payment, annual pay growth was 1pc. (Bloomberg)

Irish Independent

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