The number of Britons claiming unemployment benefit unexpectedly rose in January for the first time in four months.
The pound fell in value against other currencies and British government bond futures rose as the figures suggest Britain’s labour market is deteriorating even before more austerity measures take effect.
There was some good news for the government on inflation as wage growth remained subdued.
The Office for National Statistics said the number of people claiming jobless benefit rose by 2,400 last month, following successive falls in the previous three months. Analysts had forecast a fall of 3,000.
The number of people without a job on the wider ILO measure rose by 44,000 in the three months to December to 2.49 million.
Average weekly earnings growth slowed to just 1.8 percent in the three months to December, less than half the rate of inflation, something that may reassure Bank of England policy makers worried about inflation effects from workers demanding higher wages in response to rising prices.