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UK unemployment falls to 1.86 million

The number out of work in the UK fell by 97,000 to 1.86 million in the three months to December.

The unemployment rate now stands at 5.7% of the working population, the Office for National Statistics said.

Average earnings including bonuses rose 2.1% in the quarter from a year earlier.

Excluding bonuses, earnings rose 1.7%.

The ONS also said total pay was 2.4% higher in December compared with the same month in 2013 - the biggest lead over inflation since March 2010.

CPI inflation was 0.5% in December, and new data released on Tuesday showed the rate fell to 0.3% in January, its lowest level since records began.

James Sproule, chief economist at the Institute of Directors (IoD), said wages would continue to rise as competition for talent intensified. "Two-thirds of IoD members [are] planning pay rises at least in line with inflation over the coming months," he added.


The ONS said the employment rate, or level of people in work, for those aged between 16 and 64 was 73.2% for the three months to December - a joint record high.

The employment rate last reached 73.2% in the December 2004 to February 2005 period, and has not been higher since comparable records began in 1971.

That meant 30.9 million people were in work in the final three months of 2014 - 608,000 more than in the same three months a year earlier.

Over the quarter, the number of self-employed fell 19,000 to 4.4 million.

Long-term unemployment also fell, by 210,000 among those out of work for more than a year, to 638,000.

To continue reading follow this link to the BBC website

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