UK Unemployment rises to 1.7 Million
According to the Office for National Statistics, UK unemployment rose by 21,000 to 1.7 million between December 2015 and February 2016.
This is the first increase since the May – July period of last year and coincides with decreasing levels of job satisfaction in the workplace. Earnings, including bonuses, rose by 1.8% in the three months up to February however this is a slowdown from the 2.1% rate for the previous three month period.
ONS statistician Nick Palmer commented “It’s too soon to be certain, but with unemployment up for the first time since mid-2015 – and employment seeing its slowest rise since that period – it’s possible that recent improvements in the labour market may be easing off”.
According to the latest CIPD/Halogen Employee Outlook report, job satisfaction in the UK has fallen to its lowest level for over two years and those with job-seeking intentions has risen to almost a quarter (24%) of employee’s – a two and a half year high.
Some economists have suggested a link between the rise in unemployment figures and the EU membership referendum taking place on 23 June.
Ben Brettal, senior economist at Hargreaves Lansdown said “Last week the Bank of England said that concerns about the EU referendum had begun to affect the real economy. The increase in unemployment announced today adds some weight to that hypothesis. It’s possible businesses are delaying decisions about hiring and investment until after June’s vote, which could lead to a slowdown in the first two quarters of this year.”
“Nevertheless, the bigger picture is that the UK labour market remains in reasonable health,” he added. Despite the recent increase in unemployment, the figure was still too low to change the rate when expressed to one decimal place, which stayed at a decade low of 5.1%.
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