UK Jobless Rate Rises Unexpectedly, Wage Growth Steady

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The jobless rate - or the proportion of the workforce that is unemployed - stood at 4.4 percent in the three months to the end of December, the Office for National Statistics said in a statement.

However, Norway believes that the marginal change is well within the margin of error.

The number of people in employment actually rose by 88,000, more than the 46,000 rise in unemployment, as more people entered the labour market.

"However, while pay growth appears to be perking up, there are other signs that the labour market is starting to cool", he said, with the unemployment rate rising and the number of unemployed rising for a third successive month, though this was linked to fewer people seeking employment, rather than redundancies.

Maike Currie, investment director for personal investing at Fidelity International, said with the Bank of England increasingly pinning the chances of further interest rate hikes on accelerating pay growth (alongside Brexit progress), the prospect of an early rate rise seems "unlikely".

The East of England saw an increase of 0.6% in unemployment up to 4.2% of 16 to 64-year-olds in the period from October to December, compared to July to September.

That's up from the previous month's equivalent rate of 2.3 percent.

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Unemployment rates are calculated by people who are registered looking for work as a proportion of the working age population.

Growth in weekly earnings excluding bonuses rose to 2.5%, higher than the average estimate of 2.4% and the figure for the month before, which was revised down to 2.3%.

The UK's Consumer Prices Index (CPI) inflation rate - the key measure of inflation - remained at 3% in January.

The pay rise represented an acceleration from the 2.3 per cent annual rate recorded in the previous month, and higher than the 2.4 per cent expected by economists.

Wednesday's data marks the first time since August 2016 that the UK's headline rate of unemployment has climbed. In particular, fewer citizens from eastern European countries were in work than in the year before. In midday trading, the pound was 0.5 percent lower at $1.3921.

Rising employment in 2017 was driven by United Kingdom nationals, the ONS said.

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