UK Unemployment Rate Rises To 4.4%; Wage Growth Up 2.5%

Offsetting that, the three months to September was revised up to 0.5 per cent.

The ONS said workers' total earnings, including bonuses, rose by an annual 2.5 percent in the three months to December, as expected and unchanged from the three months to November.

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) reported the number of people in work in Scotland fell by 20,000 to stand at 2.63m, with the employment rate falling from to 75.2 to 74.3 per cent.

United Kingdom plc grew by 0.4 per cent in the fourth quarter, slightly lower than the initial official estimate of 0.5 per cent.

Stephen Clarke, senior economic analyst at think-tank the Resolution Foundation said: "It's early days but the evidence points to a plateauing in employment growth and pay pressure building".

The ONS reports there were 901,000 people in employment on zero hours contracts as their main job.

Surveys suggest that Brexit-related trade uncertainty is prompting many managers to freeze investments.

The watchdog also downgraded annual GDP growth to 1.7 per cent in 2016-17, from the initial reading of 1.8 per cent.

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Exports declined by 0.2 per cent, while imports jumped by 1.5 per cent, meaning net trade dragged on overall GDP growth, although this was distorted by the London-based worldwide gold trade.

The figures give further evidence of the overwhelming dependence of the United Kingdom economy on the services sector, which accounted for 1.3 percentage points of 2017 growth.

UNEMPLOYMENT worsened and employment declined in Scotland in the last quarter, widening the gap with the rest of the United Kingdom, according to the latest official figures.

2017 saw the UK's economy grow 1.7% overall, also slightly lower than original estimate of 1.8%, and the weakest growth since 2012, with concerns about a so-called "hard Brexit" a major contributing factor.

"With the United Kingdom sliding to last place in the G7 economic leaderboard for 2017, early indications are that 2018 is off to a slow start too".

The Bank of England can not allow itself to raise rates too soon for fear of sabotaging Britain's already sputtering economic growth.

32 per cent of firms said sales volumes were up on a year earlier, while 24 per cent said they were down, giving a net balance of 8 per cent.

In comparison, January of 2017 saw a 19.1 per cent boost to e-commerce spending, which shows just how much the market has decelerated in the past 12 months.

  • Rita Burton