There were 1.47 million unemployed Brits in the final quarter of 2017, an increase of 46,000 from July to September a year ago. They may also fuel speculation that the Bank of England could raise interest rates again as early as May after policy makers said the Brexit vote had lowered the pace the economy can grow without fanning inflation.
Nonetheless, the data painted a mostly robust picture of the labor market, with productivity - a major weakness of Britain's economy over the last decade - recording its best performance since the 2008-09 recession in the second half of 2017.
"Earnings continue to grow more slowly than prices". And private sector pay growth accelerated to 2.6% from 2.3%.
Other figures revealed that average earnings increased by 2.5 per cent in the year to December, unchanged from the previous month. BoE officials are likely to note pay jumping 2.8 percent in December alone. That was the first rise since the three-month period to August 2016, which straddled the Brexit vote. In particular, fewer citizens from eastern European countries were in work than in the year before.
The government recorded a January budget surplus of 10 billion pounds, slightly above forecasts, helped by strong income tax receipts which typically jump in that month. In midday trading, the pound was 0.5 percent lower at $1.3921. The finance ministry said Wednesday's figures were strong.
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