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UK Unemployment Unchanged, Wage Growth Higher than Expected in Latest Jobs Report

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The UK unemployment rate remained unchanged at 3.7% in the three months to December 2022, according to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).[0] The number of people in work in the UK rose by 74,000 in the three months to December, well-above market forecasts of a 40,000 increase, and following a 27,000 rise in the previous month.[1]

Average regular pay growth for the private sector was 7.3% in October to December 2022, and 4.2% for the public sector.[2] However, when adjusted for inflation, total and regular pay fell by 3.1% and 2.5% respectively, one of the largest falls since records began in 2001.[3]

The estimated number of vacancies fell by 76,000 – the seventh consecutive fall, the ONS said, reflecting economic pressures and uncertainty holding firms back on recruitment.[4] Meanwhile, 843,000 working days were lost to strikes in December, the highest number since 2011.[5]

Jane Gratton, head of people policy at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said: “Businesses are crying out for people to fill job vacancies at all skill levels, and this must be the number one focus for Government if it’s serious about economic growth.”[6]

Jeremy Hunt, the Chancellor, asserted that the most effective way to increase people’s wages is to remain on course to reduce inflation by half in the current year.[4]

Darren Morgan, director of economic statistics at the ONS said: “The last quarter of 2022 saw fewer people remaining outside the labour market altogether, with some moving straight back into a job and others starting to seek work again.”[0] He also noted a sharp increase in the number of working days lost to strikes in December, with transport and communications “the most heavily affected area”.[6]

Overall, while the UK unemployment rate remained unchanged, wage growth came in higher than expected in the latest jobs report, although in real terms, pay has declined.[4] Economic pressures and uncertainty are still leading firms to hold back on recruitment, and this is reflected in the decline in job vacancies.[7] To ensure economic growth, the focus needs to be on creating more job opportunities for people of all skill levels.

0. “Millions of workers hit by pay cut as real wages fall 3.1% and unemployment remains low – what it means f…” The Sun, 14 Feb. 2023, https://www.thesun.co.uk/money/21372556/pay-cut-millions-workers-real-wages-fall-unemployment-rises

1. “Breaking News: GBP/USD Bounces as UK Unemployment Rate Holds Firm” DailyFX, 14 Feb. 2023, https://www.dailyfx.com/news/forex-breaking-news-gbp-usd-bounces-as-uk-unemployment-rate-holds-firm-20230214.html

2. “ONS: Private sector wages grow faster than expected” MoneyWeek, 14 Feb. 2023, https://moneyweek.com/economy/uk-economy/605699/ons-private-sector-wages-grow-faster-than-expected

3. “UK pay growth may have picked up again but real earnings tell a different story” ForexLive, 14 Feb. 2023, https://www.forexlive.com/news/uk-pay-growth-may-have-picked-up-again-but-real-earnings-tell-a-different-story-20230214/

4. “Wage growth surges to near-record levels as signs point to cooling jobs market” NewsChain, 14 Feb. 2023, https://www.newschainonline.com/news/financial-news/wage-growth-surges-to-near-record-levels-as-signs-point-to-cooling-jobs-market-320323

5. “UK Wages Rise More Than Expected in Added Sign of Inflation” Yahoo News, 14 Feb. 2023, https://news.yahoo.com/uk-wages-rise-more-expected-075918419.html

6. “Wages of British workers up 6.7% as tight labor market persists” UPI News, 14 Feb. 2023, https://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2023/02/14/Wages-Rise-Amid-Tight-Labor-Market/9101676365760

7. “UK Jobless Rate Remains Stable, Wage Growth Exceeds Expectations” RTTNews, 14 Feb. 2023, https://www.rttnews.com/3343879/uk-jobless-rate-remains-stable-wage-growth-exceeds-expectations.aspx

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