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Julie Meyer

Unemployment drops but wage growth slowest in 2 years

Unemployment fell by 31,000 to 1.58m in the three months to January, but wage growth has slowed to the weakest rate in two years, prompting renewed calls to boost productivity.

There were 31.8m people in worth between November and January, an increase of 92,000 on August to October and 315,000 higher year-on-year, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The employment rate was 74.6 per cent, the joint highest since comparable records began in 1971. The unemployment rate fell from 5.1 per cent to 4.7 per cent, the lowest since June to August 1975.

There were 23.3m people in full-time employment, up by 305,000 compared with a year earlier. Another 8.52m were working part-time, up by 10,000.

Average weekly earnings increased by 2.3 per cent in real terms excluding bonuses and 2.2 per cent including bonuses compared with a year earlier.

Rachel Smith, principal labour market economists at the CBI, said: "Real pay growth is now at the slowest rate for two years, underlining the importance of increasing productivity, which remains the only sustainable route to higher wages and therefore living standards.

"We need to unlock the productive potential of all UK nations and regions by pursuing a meaningful, regionally focused industrial strategy, with clear priorities and targets, that delivers opportunity and prosperity for all."

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