The number of Britons claiming jobless benefit rose at its fastest pace in almost two years in May. That casts doubt on the health of the labour market.
There was however a big fall in another key measure of unemployment. The number of people without a job – calculated by the wider International Labour Organisation measure – fell to a two-year low of 2.43 million in the three months to April.
That was the biggest decline since August 2000 and it took the jobless rate to 7.7 percent of the workforce, which was in line with forecasts and down from 7.9 percent between November and January.
Wage growth slowed in the three months to April. Regular pay, excluding bonuses, rose by two percent.
That is less than half the annual inflation rate – which hit 4.5 percent in May – although
core inflation, which does not include food and energy, was lower than the previous month.
The Bank of England blames higher commodity prices and has said inflation will fall, so it is unlikely to raise UK interest rates anytime soon.