UK jobless rate falls further below pre-pandemic rate

British unemployment rate now at joint lowest level since 1974, official data shows

Britain’s unemployment rate fell to 3.8 per cent in the three months to February, slipping further below its level immediately before the coronavirus pandemic, official figures showed on Tuesday.

A Reuters poll of economists had pointed to the jobless rate falling to 3.8 per cent – matching a low in October to December 2019 – from a previous reading of 3.9 per cent.

The last time the British unemployment rate was lower than 3.8 per cent was in 1974.

The number of job vacancies hit a fresh record high in the three months to March at 1.288 million, a reminder of the potential inflationary heat in the labour market that has the Bank of England on alert as it raises interest rates.

Employment was up by 10,000 in the December-February period while unemployment fell by 86,000, the Office for National Statistics said.

A separate measure of the number of staff on businesses’ payrolls in March rose by 35,000. February’s increase was revised down to 174,000 from an original reading of 275,000. – Reuters