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Brian Hay
Tony Caldeira
Charlie Mullins
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Laura Tenison
Julie Meyer
Richard O'Sullivan
David Pollock
Jeremy Roberts

Unemployment dips to 1.56m but inflation restricts pay growth

Unemployment fell by 45,000 to 1.56m in the three months to February, according to the latest figures.

The unemployment rate was 4.7 per cent, down from 5.1 per cent in the same period of last year and the lowest since June to August 1975.

Employment climbed by 39,000 between December and February to 31.84m. This was 312,000 higher year-on-year, the Office for National Statistics said.

The employment rate was 74.6 per cent, the joint highest since comparable records began in 1971.

However, there were signs that rising inflation is constraining wage growth.

Average weekly earnings grew by 0.2 per cent in real terms including bonuses and by just 0.1 per cent excluding bonuses compared with a year earlier.

Rachel Smith, principal labour market economist at the Confederation of British Industry, said: "It's good to see more people in work, and with the level of vacancies the highest on record, access to the right skills remains a key challenge.

"With inflation rising, real pay growth has fallen back for the third month in a row now. This remains a concern, so it's vital that productivity increases if we are to see earnings head up.

"Developing a modern industrial strategy, making the most of a skilled workforce that delivers across the UK, will be key to helping firms give productivity a meaningful boost."

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