(Sharecast News) – UK employment reached a new record in the three months to January as employers hired more workers despite concerns about Brexit and the wider economy.
The employment rate for November to January was 76.1% – up from 75.3% a year earlier and the highest figure on record, official figures showed.
Unemployment stood at 3.9% – highest since January 1975, the Office for National Statistics said, as employment rose by 222,000 – the biggest increase since November 2015 and almost double the 120,000 average analyst forecast. Full-time roles accounted for two-thirds of the overall rise in employment.
Some economists had expected recent economic weakness to begin affecting the job market, which has defied worries about Brexit and the slowing economy.
Annual regular pay growth was steady at 3.4%. Economists had expected wage increases to weaken.
Andrew Wishart, UK economist at Capital Economics, said: “There was no sign in the labour market data of Brexit concerns at the start of the year as the data beat expectations in every regard … It is surprising that the labour market has remained so strong while economic growth has eased.”
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