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Unemployment has dropped to its lowest rate since October 2005, according to official figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
The unemployment total fell to 1.67 million in the February-to-April period, down 20,000 from the previous quarter, while the number of people in work rose by 55,000, with the employment rate remaining at a record high of 74.2%. The growth in employment is being driven by full-time work.
Figures from the ONS show that there are nearly 31.6 million people in work, nearly half-a-million more people in work compared to a year ago, with wages before bonuses up by 2.3% in the same period. Earnings including bonuses were up 2%. Pay growth in April was 2.5% and it was partly due to the introduction of the National Living Wage which affected 1.8 million workers.
UK inflation rate stays at 0.3%
The UK’s inflation rate, as measured by the Consumer Prices Index, remained at 0.3% in May according to the latest figures released by The Office for National Statistics (ONS).
Inflation has been at 0.3% each month so far this year except March, in which Easter fell. The rise in fuel prices was offset by the falls in the price of clothing. Among the reasons for low inflation are also low economic and wage growth and weak energy prices.
The Bank of England has an inflation target of 2%, but has failed to meet this for more than two years. The Bank has been trying since the crisis of 2008 to lift economic activity and it has kept interest rates at record lows of 0.5% for seven years. The Bank’s most recent forecast, in May, said inflation would remain below 1% until late into 2016, and would stay below the 2% target until 2018.
This picture of slow growth and low inflation and interest rates is a similar one in many developed world economies.