Unemployment remains at its decade-low rate of 5.1{06aeb1921e0b802d2bd9c766bc98fb11cc6a46c2b0593ed9c88a0e29cf417a34} in the three months to December. This is despite the number of people not in work falling by 60,000.

Economists expected a fall in the unemployment rate, so the latest official figure may be interpreted as a disappointment.

Recent figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show signs of growth wage, and 23 million people are now in full time employment. This is 387,000 more than last year.

The average weekly earnings for employees increased by 2{06aeb1921e0b802d2bd9c766bc98fb11cc6a46c2b0593ed9c88a0e29cf417a34}. This excludes bonuses compared with a year earlier, the ONS said.

However, Markit’s chief economist Chris Williamson said recent survey data adds to fears that low inflation is continuing to hold down pay growth.

The employment rate for women (69.1{06aeb1921e0b802d2bd9c766bc98fb11cc6a46c2b0593ed9c88a0e29cf417a34}) was the joint highest since comparable records began in 1971. This is partly due to ongoing changes to the state pension age for women resulting in fewer women retiring between the ages of 60 and 65.

For October to December 2015, the unemployment rate for 16 to 24 year olds was 13.6{06aeb1921e0b802d2bd9c766bc98fb11cc6a46c2b0593ed9c88a0e29cf417a34}, lower than the pre-downturn trough of 13.8{06aeb1921e0b802d2bd9c766bc98fb11cc6a46c2b0593ed9c88a0e29cf417a34} for the three months ending February 2008.

The UK’s unemployment rate is the envy of many in the European Union, with only Germany and the Czech Republic having a lower rate at 4.5{06aeb1921e0b802d2bd9c766bc98fb11cc6a46c2b0593ed9c88a0e29cf417a34}.

Earlier this month the Bank of England’s nine-member monetary policy committee  voted to leave interest rates unchanged at their record low level of 0.5{06aeb1921e0b802d2bd9c766bc98fb11cc6a46c2b0593ed9c88a0e29cf417a34}.

According to Mr Williamson: “The proportion of households expecting a rate hike in the next six months almost halved from 40{06aeb1921e0b802d2bd9c766bc98fb11cc6a46c2b0593ed9c88a0e29cf417a34} to 22{06aeb1921e0b802d2bd9c766bc98fb11cc6a46c2b0593ed9c88a0e29cf417a34} between January and February, also its lowest for over two years.

“At 8{06aeb1921e0b802d2bd9c766bc98fb11cc6a46c2b0593ed9c88a0e29cf417a34}, the proportion expecting the bank’s next move to be an interest rate cut meanwhile edged up to the highest since data were first collected in July 2013.”

Source: Sky News