UK jobless rate holds at a 44-year low

Official figures have shown the sharpest annual decline in the number of European Union workers in Britain since 1997. (AFP pic)

LONDON: Britain’s unemployment rate is at a 44-year low, official data showed Tuesday, despite weakening economic growth blamed on a global slowdown and Brexit clouds.

The jobless rate stood at 4.0% in the three months to December, the lowest level since 1975, the Office for National Statistics said.

That was the same as the three months to November, the ONS added in a statement, while expectations had also been for no change.

The total number of unemployed people slid by 14,000 to 1.36 million in the year to December, which was 100,000 lower than a year ago.

“Despite the slowing growth, the labour market in the UK boomed,” the ONS said, noting also the nation’s record high employment.

However, the bright labour market news came on the same day that Japanese carmaker Honda said it would shut its UK car plant in 2021, with the loss of 3,500 jobs.

The ONS added that UK wages have continued to outstrip British inflation.

Average earnings including bonuses grew by 3.4% in the three months to December from a year earlier, boosting the purchasing power of workers’ salaries.