Economy

United Kingdom unemployment hits 4-decade low; wages fall

United Kingdom unemployment hits 4-decade low; wages fall

A survey published earlier today showed inflation gnawed further into the budgets of British households this month, resulting in the sharpest fall in cash available to spend in two-and-a-half years.

Among the index of food items which recorded notable increases in April compared to the same period a year ago were cooking oil (49.0 per cent), spinach (15.9 per cent) and tomatoes (13.8 per cent). The fact that fuller employment and lower unemployment is not pushing wages higher raises questions about the extent to which pay will rise in coming years. Inflation now stands at 2.7% - up from 2.3% in March - and above the Bank of England's 2% target.

The ONS yesterday said that inflation hit its highest level in almost four years in April at 2.7 per cent, as sterling's weakness, electricity price hikes and rising air fares bumped up the cost of living.

It means inflation is now outstripping wage growth, which rose by 2.3% in the year to February.

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"If the disparity between pay and price growth continues to increase as we predict, household spending is likely to slow further, weakening overall economic activity", Suren Thiru, head of economics at the British Chambers of Commerce was cited as saying by the Guardian.

Analysts were expecting CPI to increase to 2.6% and for core inflation to rise to 2.2%.

"The upward effect for transport came mainly from air fares, with a rise of 18.6% reflecting the usual pattern of increasing prices around Easter". Rising clothing prices, higher auto tax and electricity also pushed up consumer prices.

In comparison, average weekly earnings excluding bonuses increased by 2.1 percent.

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"I still expect interest rates to remain at their current low level for some time yet given the slowdown in economic growth observed in the first quarter of this year, the pressure on real wage growth and the upcoming Brexit negotiations", he said.

RBI emphasized inflationary risks in its last monetary policy statement in April.

The Bank's latest forecasts showed inflation peaking at 2.8% by the end of this year although other experts believe an even tighter squeeze looms as the currency's weakness works its way through the economy.

CPIH is the ONS's preferred measure of inflation, which includes costs associated with living in, maintaining and owning a home.

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The ONS said house prices in March rose at their weakest rate since October 2013, up 4.1 percent on the year.


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