United Kingdom unemployment rate falls unexpectedly to 4.0% | 14 August 2018

Wages should improve as the pool of available employees shrinks but there is little sign of this happening

Job vacancies increased by 20,000 to a record high of 829,000 as the number of non-EU nationals working in the United Kingdom increased by 74,000 to 1.27 million.

The fall was the largest annual amount since records began in 1997.

The region's employment rate was 78.7%, 0.5% higher than the period from January to March, with almost 3.1 million people in work.

The CBI said the size of the United Kingdom workforce was shrinking at the same time as vacancies for skills and labour were growing.

"This will not be what the Bank of England will have wanted to see, as one of the justifications for [its] decision to hike rates earlier this month was that it was expecting wage growth to start lifting off".

The number of people in work also increased over the three months from April to June, with 32.39 million people in work.

On productivity, the ONS also said output per hour worked grew by 1.5%, the biggest rise since late 2016.

"The number of people in work has continued to edge ahead, though the employment rate was unchanged on the quarter", senior ONS statistician Matt Hughes said in a statement. That left 780,000 people with those conditions as their main job.

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The economic inactivity rate among those below retirement age - Scots aged under 65 who are not seeking work, often because they are studying or caring for family - fell by 17,000 people, to 21.5%.

Matthew Percival, CBI head of employment, said: "Continuing job creation shows that flexibility in the labour market is a key strength of the United Kingdom economy".

Average weekly earnings rose by 2.4% on the year - in line with inflation - down from 2.5% in the previous three-month period and the weakest since September 2017.

This is being made worse by Brexit uncertainty and a fall in workers from other European Union countries.

It means the number of European nationals in the United Kingdom now sits at 2.28 million.

The BoE raised the bank rate by 25 basis points to 0.75 percent at the beginning of August, only the second rate rise in over 11 years.

However, Suren Thiru, head of economics at the British Chambers of Commerce, said this now looked to have been a premature move. Pay growth is anaemic at best. Economists had expected it to stay at 4.2%.

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