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United Kingdom rate in unemployment rises for first time in two years

United Kingdom rate in unemployment rises for first time in two years”

Households lost spending power past year because of a jump in inflation, caused by the fall in the pound after the British vote to exit the European Union.

The unemployment rate rose to 4.4 percent from 4.3 percent, the first increase since the three months to February 2016 as the number of jobless rose for a third monthly report in a row.

The number of people in employment actually rose by 88,000, more than the 46,000 rise in unemployment, as more people entered the labour market. 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.

That was a slight slowdown from 0.9% in the third quarter but combined, these represented the best two quarters for productivity since the 2008/9 recession. Including bonuses, the rate was unchanged at 2.5 percent. And private sector pay growth accelerated to 2.6% from 2.3%.

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"Meanwhile, slowing productivity growth and rising pay growth makes an interest rate increase more likely".

The ONS attributed the rise in unemployment to a fall in the number of people who are neither working nor looking for a job.

In December alone, total pay jumped by 2.8 percent, up from 2.3 percent in November. That was the first rise since the three-month period to August 2016, which straddled the Brexit vote.

Although the UK's quarterly rise was the biggest since early 2013, national unemployment is 123,000 lower than a year ago, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Overall migration data has shown a drop in net migration from the European Union into the United Kingdom since the Brexit vote.

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The figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) sent the pound a cent lower against the U.S. dollar to just over $1.39.

Separate figures showed that Britain's government recorded a January budget surplus of 10 billion pounds (about $14 billion), slightly bigger than forecast, helped by a surge of income tax receipts that typically comes at the start of the calendar year. On Wednesday it said it now looked clear that Hammond would undershoot this "by a significant margin".

The finance ministry said Wednesday's figures were considered strong.

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