United Kingdom pay growth outpaces inflation for first time in a year

18 April, 2018, 00:28 | Author: Elaine Woods
  • Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May attends a press conference in 10 Downing Street London

Britain's annual inflation rate stood at 2.7 percent in February.

Unemployment in the United Kingdom fell unexpectedly between December and February, according to new data released by the Office for National Statistics on Tuesday. The jobless rate fell to 4.2 per cent, the lowest since 1975 and below the BOE's estimate of the equilibrium rate.

The figures may reinforce speculation that the Bank of England (BOE) will raise interest rates again next month, despite the economy being disrupted by bad weather in the first quarter.

There were 1.42 million unemployed people in the United Kingdom over the period, according to the ONS, 16,000 fewer than September to November 2017.

Employment rose to a record high between December and February after the economy added 55,000 jobs, the ONS figures show.

The pound fell slightly after the data were released as wage growth including bonuses fell short of expectations, holding at 2.8 per cent.

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Sterling weakened as the data showed wages in the three months to February rose by 2.8 percent, unchanged from the growth rate in the three months to January and below a median forecast of 3.0 percent in a Reuters poll of economists. That's higher than the rate of inflation, which was 2.7% at the most recent reading.

The wages news came as a report by the Resolution Foundation predicted that falling United Kingdom home ownership rates mean a third of millennials will spend their lives in rented housing. The bank has stressed it is looking for wage growth before rate hikes.

Senior ONS statistician Matt Hughes said: "The labour market continues to be strong, and for the first time in nearly a year, earnings have grown slightly after inflation has been taken into account".

In February, the jobless rate fell to an all-time low of 4 per cent private-sector regular wage growth hit 3 per cent. "Certainly there's nothing within the labour market numbers to prevent the Monetary Policy Committee from raising interest rates in May", he said.

Stephen Clarke, senior economic analyst at the Resolution Foundation, said: "Today's figures confirm that Britain passed an important living standards milestone in early 2018 as its 12-month pay squeeze finally ended".

Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, said: "An acceleration in wage growth for British workers may put the Bank of England on a state of alert when it comes to the next interest rate increase but the nation's retailers may be pleased to see it after a very hard start to the year".

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