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UK inflation highest since June 2014
Annual inflation as measured by the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) reached 1.8% last month, up from a rate of 1.6% in December, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
It is the fourth consecutive month of growth and inflation has now reached the highest rate since June 2014. The main contributors to the increase in the rate were rising prices for motor fuels, which hit a two-year high in early February, and food prices.
These upward pressures were partially offset by prices for clothing and footwear, which fell by more than they did 12 months ago.
The increase in the inflation rate takes it closer to the Bank of England’s target rate of 2%, which was last seen in December 2013. Inflation is expected to continue to grow this year as a result of the weaker pound, which is making imported goods more expensive. The Bank of England said it now expects the inflation rate to hit 2.7% next year.
The employment rate (the proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 who were in work) edged higher to 74.6%, the highest since comparable records began in 1971, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
In the period between October to December 2016, there were 31.84 million people in work, 37,000 more than for July to September 2016 and 302,000 more than in the same period in 2015. There were 23.29 million people working full-time, 218,000 more than in 2015 and 8.55 million people working part-time, an increase of 84,000.
UK unemployment fell by 7,000 to 1.6 million people.
In the period from October to December 2016, there were 1.60 million unemployed people (people not in work but seeking and available to work), 97,000 less than in 2015. The unemployment rate was 4.8%, down from 5.1%. This is the lowest rate since July to September 2005.
Average weekly earnings for employees in the UK increased by 2.6%, both including and excluding bonuses.