LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s unemployment rate fell unexpectedly to its lowest since 1975 during the second quarter and productivity picked up, but wage growth slowed, official data showed on Tuesday.
The number of European Union nationals working in Britain also fell by the largest annual amount since records began in 1997, the Office for National Statistics said, continuing a trend seen since the 2016 Brexit vote.
The unemployment rate fell to 4.0 percent in the April through June period, the lowest since the three months to February 1975 and beating economists’ forecasts for it to hold steady at a previous low of 4.2 percent.
The drop came despite a smaller-than-expected number of jobs created over the three-month period of 42,000.
The ONS also said output per hour worked grew by 1.5 percent year-on-year in the April-June period, the biggest increase since late 2016 after a 0.9 percent rise in the first quarter of 2018.
Annual wage growth, however, slowed to a nine-month low of 2.4 percent. The ONS said changes to the timing of annual bonus payments was partly responsible.
Britain’s economy warmed up a little in the second quarter from its winter slowdown of early 2018, official data showed last week, but there was no sign of an end to its stuttering performance ahead of Brexit next year.