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UK Unemployment falls to lowest in 42 years

Britain’s unemployment rate unexpectedly fell to its lowest since 1975, official data showed this morning.

The unemployment rate in the three months to the end of June fell to 4.4 percent, against the average forecast for it to hold at 4.5 percent in a poll of economists.

The figures on wage growth showed the challenge facing Prime Minister Theresa May and her government, with households feeling the strain of rising prices since last year’s Brexit vote.

While inflation has eased slightly since May when it hit an almost four-year high of 2.9 percent, prices are still rising faster than wages. The Office for National Statistics said workers’ total earnings including bonuses rose by an annual 2.1 percent in the three months to June, compared with 1.9 percent in the period to May, but this was boosted by bonus payments in the financial sector.

Economists taking part in a poll had expected wage growth of 1.8 percent. The Bank of England is watching wage growth closely as it gauges whether the increase in inflation is creating longer-lasting pressure on prices. It expects wages to rise by 2 percent this year before picking up in 2018 and 2019.

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