The UK employment increased to a record high and the unemployment rate also advanced even before the economy faced the impact of coronavirus epidemic, data published by the Office for National Statistics showed on Tuesday.
The employment rate rose 0.3 percentage points from the previous quarter to a joint record high of 76.5 percent in three months to January.
The number of people in work grew to a record 32.99 million as job creation rose by 184,000 from a quarter ago.
However, the jobless rate gained 0.2 percentage points from the preceding quarter to 3.9 percent. The rate was largely unchanged from a year earlier, the ONS said. This was above the forecast of 3.8 percent.
During November to January, nearly 1.34 million people were unemployed. This was 5,000 more than a year earlier but 515,000 fewer than five years earlier.
Average weekly earnings including bonus and excluding bonus grew 3.1 percent each on a yearly basis. Economists had forecast total pay to grow 3 percent and regular pay to climb 3.2 percent.
In February, the claimant count rose marginally to a seasonally adjusted 3.5 percent from 3.4 percent in January. The number of people claiming unemployment benefits increased 17,300 from the previous month.
The number of vacancies grew 19,000 from the previous quarter to 817,000 in three months to February.
In addition to the package announced in the budget, Finance minister Rishi Sunak is expected to unveil more measures later today to tackle the downward effects caused by the covid-19 outbreak.
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