UK unemployment rate rises to 4.4% as labour market cools, but wage growth sticky – business live

From 30m ago

Introduction: Unemployment rate rises to 4.4%

Good morning, and welcome to our rolling coverage of business, the financial markets and the world economy.

Back when the UK general election was called, today was identified as a key date to take the health of the economy.

That’s because the latest labour market data is being released, the first of five pieces of important economic news which will test Rishi Sunak’s claim that his economic plan was working.

The data will also be watched at the Bank of England, as well as across Westminster, as central bankers look for evidence that inflationary pressures are esing.

And the big news is that unemployment has risen, while wage growth remains stickily high – which may dampen hopes of an early interest rate cut.

The Office for National Statistics has reported that the number of people unemployed rose by 138,000 in the February-April quarter, taking the total to just over 1.5 million.

This lifts the UK unemployment rate to 4.4%, the highest since July-September 2021.

The number of people in work has fallen, by 139,000, to 32.97 million.

And 132,000 more people fell out of the labour market altogether, partly due to ill health, taking the total of economically inactive up to 9.434m. That left the economic inactivity rate at 22.3% for the three months to April, up from 22% in the previous quarter.

The data also shows that companies are cutting back on hiring, with the number of vacancies in March to May 2024 falling by 12,000 to 904,000.

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The number of vacancies in March to May 2024 was 904,000, a decrease of 12,000 on the previous 3 months.

This is down by 156,000 from a year before, although they remained 108,000 above their pre #COVID19 levels.

Read Vacancies and jobs in the UK ➡️ https://t.co/OOuA5MDtdJ pic.twitter.com/RzohaWofTp

&mdash; Office for National Statistics (ONS) (@ONS) June 11, 2024

\n\n"}}” config=”{"renderingTarget":"Web","darkModeAvailable":false,"updateLogoAdPartnerSwitch":true,"assetOrigin":"https://assets.guim.co.uk/"}”>

The number of vacancies in March to May 2024 was 904,000, a decrease of 12,000 on the previous 3 months.

This is down by 156,000 from a year before, although they remained 108,000 above their pre #COVID19 levels.

Read Vacancies and jobs in the UK ➡️ https://t.co/OOuA5MDtdJ pic.twitter.com/RzohaWofTp

— Office for National Statistics (ONS) (@ONS) June 11, 2024

The ONS says:

This month’s figures continue to show signs that the labour market may be cooling, with the number of vacancies still falling and unemployment rising, though earnings growth remains relatively strong.

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We’ve published the latest UK labour market figures.

Headline indicators for the UK labour market for February to April 2024 show:

• employment was 74.3%
• unemployment was 4.4%
• economic inactivity was 22.3%

Read Labour market overview ➡️ https://t.co/d5svuWoytL pic.twitter.com/hsLB0qWhCg

&mdash; Office for National Statistics (ONS) (@ONS) June 11, 2024

"}}” config=”{"renderingTarget":"Web","darkModeAvailable":false,"updateLogoAdPartnerSwitch":true,"assetOrigin":"https://assets.guim.co.uk/"}”>

We’ve published the latest UK labour market figures.

Headline indicators for the UK labour market for February to April 2024 show:

• employment was 74.3%
• unemployment was 4.4%
• economic inactivity was 22.3%

Read Labour market overview ➡️ https://t.co/d5svuWoytL pic.twitter.com/hsLB0qWhCg

— Office for National Statistics (ONS) (@ONS) June 11, 2024

But wage growth did not slow, despite this cooling demand for workers.

The ONS reports that annual growth in regular earnings (excluding bonuses) was 6.0%, the same as for the previous three-month period; and annual growth in employees’ average total earnings (including bonuses) was 5.9%, the same as for the previous three-month period.

The agenda

  • 7am BST: UK labour market statistics

  • 11am BST: NFIB index of US small business optimism

  • Noon BST: Fireside chat with ECB chief economist Philip Lane at the Banking and Payments Federation Ireland National Conference in Dublin

  • 2pm BST: Russia trade balance for April

Share

Updated at 07.21 BST

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The rise in unemployment, and in people neither working nor looking for work (economically inactive) is a sign of 14 years of “abject failure” by the government, says Liz Kendall, Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary:

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“Today’s figures confirm that the Tories have no hiding place after 14 years of abject failure.

\n

On Rishi Sunak’s watch, a record number of people are out of work due to long-term sickness at terrible cost to them, to business and the taxpayer, and we remain the only G7 country whose employment rate still isn’t back to pre-pandemic levels.

\n

Labour’s plan will get Britain working by cutting NHS waiting lists, introducing a new national jobs and careers service, making work pay and supporting people into good jobs across every part of the country.

\n

It’s time to stop the chaos, turn the page and start rebuilding Britain.”

\n

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The good news for workers is that real wages (ie, after inflation) rose at their fastest rate in almost three years.

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Adjusted for CPI inflation, total pay (including bonuses) grew by 2.7% per year in February to April 2024, which is the fastest rate since July to September 2021 (when it was 3.0%).

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Regular pay (which excludes bonuses) rose by 2.9%, the fastest growth since June to August 2021 (when it was 3.4%).

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Pay grew by 6.0% excluding bonuses, or 5.9% including bonuses, in the year to February to April 2024.

Read Average weekly earnings in Great Britain ➡️ https://t.co/q4C0WP2iEy pic.twitter.com/6CPMtdTqXb

&mdash; Office for National Statistics (ONS) (@ONS) June 11, 2024

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Good morning, and welcome to our rolling coverage of business, the financial markets and the world economy.

","elementId":"b3309e29-7f00-46b0-923e-3c6f4deefcd9"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

Back when the UK general election was called, today was identified as a key date to take the health of the economy.

","elementId":"57d5b114-e20a-461b-9353-14a6f43c93cd"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

That’s because the latest labour market data is being released, the first of five pieces of important economic news which will test Rishi Sunak’s claim that his economic plan was working.

","elementId":"f689c134-648f-478c-a4c2-a19fc22326e8"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

The data will also be watched at the Bank of England, as well as across Westminster, as central bankers look for evidence that inflationary pressures are esing.

","elementId":"79dc626a-e5b2-4e30-a4bc-2bdb995abc20"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

And the big news is that unemployment has risen, while wage growth remains stickily high – which may dampen hopes of an early interest rate cut.

","elementId":"c7ec6146-0db8-4935-ac05-844fbcaa4a92"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

The Office for National Statistics has reported that the number of people unemployed rose by 138,000 in the February-April quarter, taking the total to just over 1.5 million.

","elementId":"db4c3d2d-14a0-47a4-a601-317fe53a3b80"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

This lifts the UK unemployment rate to 4.4%, the highest since July-September 2021.

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The number of people in work has fallen, by 139,000, to 32.97 million.

","elementId":"39d0f5b9-9f6b-4a6a-8e13-859a0ad3d7b0"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

And 132,000 more people fell out of the labour market altogether, partly due to ill health, taking the total of economically inactive up to 9.434m. That left the economic inactivity rate at 22.3% for the three months to April, up from 22% in the previous quarter.

","elementId":"3ee2c7b3-1051-44d9-8654-05f7e6f67a74"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

The data also shows that companies are cutting back on hiring, with the number of vacancies in March to May 2024 falling by 12,000 to 904,000.

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The number of vacancies in March to May 2024 was 904,000, a decrease of 12,000 on the previous 3 months.

This is down by 156,000 from a year before, although they remained 108,000 above their pre #COVID19 levels.

Read Vacancies and jobs in the UK ➡️ https://t.co/OOuA5MDtdJ pic.twitter.com/RzohaWofTp

&mdash; Office for National Statistics (ONS) (@ONS) June 11, 2024

\n\n"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

The ONS says:

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\n

This month’s figures continue to show signs that the labour market may be cooling, with the number of vacancies still falling and unemployment rising, though earnings growth remains relatively strong.

\n

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We’ve published the latest UK labour market figures.

Headline indicators for the UK labour market for February to April 2024 show:

• employment was 74.3%
• unemployment was 4.4%
• economic inactivity was 22.3%

Read Labour market overview ➡️ https://t.co/d5svuWoytL pic.twitter.com/hsLB0qWhCg

&mdash; Office for National Statistics (ONS) (@ONS) June 11, 2024

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But wage growth did not slow, despite this cooling demand for workers.

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The ONS reports that annual growth in regular earnings (excluding bonuses) was 6.0%, the same as for the previous three-month period; and annual growth in employees’ average total earnings (including bonuses) was 5.9%, the same as for the previous three-month period.

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The agenda

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    \n

  • 7am BST: UK labour market statistics

  • \n

  • 11am BST: NFIB index of US small business optimism

  • \n

  • Noon BST: Fireside chat with ECB chief economist Philip Lane at the Banking and Payments Federation Ireland National Conference in Dublin

  • \n

  • 2pm BST: Russia trade balance for April

  • \n

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Key events

Filters BETA

Liz Kendall: Rising unemployment due to Tory ‘abject failure’

The rise in unemployment, and in people neither working nor looking for work (economically inactive) is a sign of 14 years of “abject failure” by the government, says Liz Kendall, Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary:

“Today’s figures confirm that the Tories have no hiding place after 14 years of abject failure.

On Rishi Sunak’s watch, a record number of people are out of work due to long-term sickness at terrible cost to them, to business and the taxpayer, and we remain the only G7 country whose employment rate still isn’t back to pre-pandemic levels.

Labour’s plan will get Britain working by cutting NHS waiting lists, introducing a new national jobs and careers service, making work pay and supporting people into good jobs across every part of the country.

It’s time to stop the chaos, turn the page and start rebuilding Britain.”

The increase in the UK minimum wage helped to keep wage growth strong in the last quarter, explains Yael Selfin, chief economist at KPMG UK.

The national living wage rose by almost 10% at the start of April, to £11.44 an hour, lifting take-home pay for around three million workers.

Yael Selfin, chief economist at KPMG UK, says:

“Wage growth remained elevated in April as the 10% hike in the National Living Wage was enough to temporarily arrest the downward momentum in pay.

Based on today’s release, we estimate that the rise in the National Living Wage boosted the overall level of pay by around 0.1%, although the current headline rate somewhat underestimates the impact because it is reported as a three-month average.

“The unemployment rate ticked up to 4.4%. The recent weakening in demand for staff has been attributed to a lack of roles and firms delaying hiring decisions. This is consistent with a broader trend of retaining existing labour, and could signal that firms expect a pickup in activity so that they could utilise their existing staff more.

Wages are rising slightly faster in the UK public sector than in the private sector, today’s labour market report shows.

The Office for National Statistics reports that annual average regular earnings growth for the public sector “remains strong”, at 6.4% in February to April 2024.

For the private sector, total regular (ex-bonuses) pay rose by 5.8%, the slowest rate since April to June 2022 (when it was 5.4%).

Annual average total earnings growth for the public sector was 6.3% and was 5.8% for the private sector, the ONS adds.

UK real wages rising at fastest since 2021

The good news for workers is that real wages (ie, after inflation) rose at their fastest rate in almost three years.

Adjusted for CPI inflation, total pay (including bonuses) grew by 2.7% per year in February to April 2024, which is the fastest rate since July to September 2021 (when it was 3.0%).

Regular pay (which excludes bonuses) rose by 2.9%, the fastest growth since June to August 2021 (when it was 3.4%).

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Pay grew by 6.0% excluding bonuses, or 5.9% including bonuses, in the year to February to April 2024.

Read Average weekly earnings in Great Britain ➡️ https://t.co/q4C0WP2iEy pic.twitter.com/6CPMtdTqXb

&mdash; Office for National Statistics (ONS) (@ONS) June 11, 2024

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Share

Updated at 07.21 BST

Introduction: Unemployment rate rises to 4.4%

Good morning, and welcome to our rolling coverage of business, the financial markets and the world economy.

Back when the UK general election was called, today was identified as a key date to take the health of the economy.

That’s because the latest labour market data is being released, the first of five pieces of important economic news which will test Rishi Sunak’s claim that his economic plan was working.

The data will also be watched at the Bank of England, as well as across Westminster, as central bankers look for evidence that inflationary pressures are esing.

And the big news is that unemployment has risen, while wage growth remains stickily high – which may dampen hopes of an early interest rate cut.

The Office for National Statistics has reported that the number of people unemployed rose by 138,000 in the February-April quarter, taking the total to just over 1.5 million.

This lifts the UK unemployment rate to 4.4%, the highest since July-September 2021.

The number of people in work has fallen, by 139,000, to 32.97 million.

And 132,000 more people fell out of the labour market altogether, partly due to ill health, taking the total of economically inactive up to 9.434m. That left the economic inactivity rate at 22.3% for the three months to April, up from 22% in the previous quarter.

The data also shows that companies are cutting back on hiring, with the number of vacancies in March to May 2024 falling by 12,000 to 904,000.

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The number of vacancies in March to May 2024 was 904,000, a decrease of 12,000 on the previous 3 months.

This is down by 156,000 from a year before, although they remained 108,000 above their pre #COVID19 levels.

Read Vacancies and jobs in the UK ➡️ https://t.co/OOuA5MDtdJ pic.twitter.com/RzohaWofTp

&mdash; Office for National Statistics (ONS) (@ONS) June 11, 2024

\n\n"}}” config=”{"renderingTarget":"Web","darkModeAvailable":false,"updateLogoAdPartnerSwitch":true,"assetOrigin":"https://assets.guim.co.uk/"}”>

The number of vacancies in March to May 2024 was 904,000, a decrease of 12,000 on the previous 3 months.

This is down by 156,000 from a year before, although they remained 108,000 above their pre #COVID19 levels.

Read Vacancies and jobs in the UK ➡️ https://t.co/OOuA5MDtdJ pic.twitter.com/RzohaWofTp

— Office for National Statistics (ONS) (@ONS) June 11, 2024

The ONS says:

This month’s figures continue to show signs that the labour market may be cooling, with the number of vacancies still falling and unemployment rising, though earnings growth remains relatively strong.

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We’ve published the latest UK labour market figures.

Headline indicators for the UK labour market for February to April 2024 show:

• employment was 74.3%
• unemployment was 4.4%
• economic inactivity was 22.3%

Read Labour market overview ➡️ https://t.co/d5svuWoytL pic.twitter.com/hsLB0qWhCg

&mdash; Office for National Statistics (ONS) (@ONS) June 11, 2024

"}}” config=”{"renderingTarget":"Web","darkModeAvailable":false,"updateLogoAdPartnerSwitch":true,"assetOrigin":"https://assets.guim.co.uk/"}”>

We’ve published the latest UK labour market figures.

Headline indicators for the UK labour market for February to April 2024 show:

• employment was 74.3%
• unemployment was 4.4%
• economic inactivity was 22.3%

Read Labour market overview ➡️ https://t.co/d5svuWoytL pic.twitter.com/hsLB0qWhCg

— Office for National Statistics (ONS) (@ONS) June 11, 2024

But wage growth did not slow, despite this cooling demand for workers.

The ONS reports that annual growth in regular earnings (excluding bonuses) was 6.0%, the same as for the previous three-month period; and annual growth in employees’ average total earnings (including bonuses) was 5.9%, the same as for the previous three-month period.

The agenda

  • 7am BST: UK labour market statistics

  • 11am BST: NFIB index of US small business optimism

  • Noon BST: Fireside chat with ECB chief economist Philip Lane at the Banking and Payments Federation Ireland National Conference in Dublin

  • 2pm BST: Russia trade balance for April

Share

Updated at 07.21 BST

The Guardian

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