Britain’s unemployment rate unexpectedly edged up in the final three months of last year to 7.2 percent of the working population.
It was the first rise in almost a year.
It had been 7.1 percent in the three months up to the end of November, the UK’s Office for National Statistics said
The labour market is mixed though as the number of claimants of jobless benefits fell for the 15th consecutive month.
Such claimants are a narrower category than those who are deemed unemployed
Wage growth also accelerated. Average weekly earnings rose by 1.1 percent in the three months to December 2013 compared with the same period in 2012.
Wage growth has lagged inflation over the last years, and the squeeze on incomes is a key battleground of next year’s general election.
The number take some pressure off the UK central bank which had linked a possible increase in interest rates to falling jobless totals.
The Bank of England has said that it is in no rush to put up borrowing costs.