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UK jobless rate falls, interest rate rise some way off

UK jobless rate falls, interest rate rise some way off
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Britain’s unemployment rate fell to its lowest level in more than five years between January and March.

It was 6.8 percent of the workforce as a record number of people got jobs.

Before the financial crisis, Britain’s jobless rate averaged around 5.0 percent.

The figures follow results of a survey released last week that showed private-sector employers last month took on staff at the fastest rate since at least early 1998.

Wages rose by more than inflation for the first time since 2010, but they are still a long way from offsetting the fall in living standards since the financial crisis.

Britain’s independent budget forecaster expects that hourly earnings, adjusted for inflation, will probably be below pre-crisis levels until the end of 2016.

UK interest rates still on hold

The strength of the labour market recovery has raised questions about how long the Bank of England should refrain from raising interest rates.

Hours after the figures were released the UK central bank said it is still in no rush to do that because the British economy’s recovery remains in its early stages, suggesting it may only raise rates in about a year’s time.

The BoE lowered its forecast for unemployment for the next couple of years, but left largely unchanged its growth and inflation forecasts as well as its assumptions on the timing of interest rate rises.

Governor Mark Carney said Britain’s economy was still only starting to recover from the financial crisis.

“As time has moved on and the recovery has been sustained, the economy has edged closer to the point at which Bank Rate will need gradually to rise,” Carney said at a news conference.

“The exact timing will inevitably be the subject of considerable speculation and interest.”

The bank also said that when the time came, borrowing costs would rise “only gradually and to a level materially below” their pre-crisis average.”

The Bank forecast that inflation in two years’ time would still be just below its 2.0 percent target, assuming interest rates rise in the second quarter of next year – around the time of a national election in the UK.

with Reuters