UK unemployment rises as pay growth lags high inflation
The UK’s unemployment rate has edged higher and pay growth continues to lag well behind high inflation, according to the latest official data, highlighting the country’s cost of living crisis.
Reflecting softer conditions in the jobs market as Britain’s economy struggles for growth momentum, the unemployment rate unexpectedly rose to 3.8% from 3.7%, the Office for National Statistics figures showed. The number of job vacancies also fell for a ninth consecutive month.
The Office for National Statistics said annual growth in average pay, excluding bonuses, held steady at 6.6% in the three months to February.
Paul Nowak, the general secretary of Trades Union Congress (TUC), said the figures showed workers were suffering the longest wages slump in modern history.
Calling on ministers to resolve pay disputes, Nowak said: “Hard-pressed families can’t take much more. It is no surprise that workers are having to take strike action to defend their living standards.”
The latest snapshot showed a rise in the number of working days lost to strikes in February amid action by civil service staff and teachers, with 348,000 working days lost during the month.