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UK jobless rate falls but wage growth weakens again

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By Euronews
UK jobless rate falls but wage growth weakens again

The unemployment rate in the UK has fallen again.

In the three months to January, the jobless total was just 4.7 percent of the workforce, down from 5.1 percent for the same period a year earlier.

There were 31.85 million people in work, 315,000 more than for a year earlier.

The employment rate hit a record high.

Employment Minister Damian Hinds said: “I’m delighted by another set of record-breaking figures showing more people in work than ever before and unemployment falling to its lowest in 12 years.”

Pay pressure

The news on what people are getting paid is not so good.

Wage growth was weak even as inflation jumped, pushed up by the slump in the value of the pound after the Brexit vote, which hits real incomes.

Pay growth, adjusted for inflation, halved to just 0.7 percent, the lowest since October 2014.

More self-employed

A breakdown of the figures shows that many people are leaving the jobless rolls because they are becoming self employed.

The number of people in work increased by 144,000 from a year earlier. The total of people declaring themselves self-employed was up by 148,000.

Zero-hours = no guarantee of work

A record number of the self-employed – 905,000 – are on what are known as zero-hours contracts, which means the employer does not automatically give workers a guaranteed minimum number of hours of work each week, but they must be available.

Trade unions oppose zero-hours contracts saying they undermine workers’ rights.

Speaking for Britain’s Trades Union Congress, General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Zero-hours contracts allow bosses to treat workers like disposable labour. If you’re on a zero-hours contract you have no guarantee of work from one day to another. Put a foot wrong and you can be let go in a heartbeat. Turn down a shift because your kid’s sick and you can be left with little or no work.”