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Inflation rate drops for third consecutive month

19 Mai 2017

And the number of people in work rose by a robust 122,000, taking the employment rate to a new record of 74.8 percent.

British pay growth lagged inflation for the first time in two-and-a-half years in early 2017, underscoring the growing Brexit squeeze facing many households, official data showed on Wednesday.

The level of people in employment in the United Kingdom reached a new record high in the first quarter of the year as unemployment reached its lowest since 1975. The jobless total fell by 53,000 to 1.54 million in the first three months of the year while the number in work rose by 122,000 to nearly 32 million, the highest total on record.

One in every eight workers in the United Kingdom - 3.8 million people - is now living in poverty, according to a report written for the independent Joseph Rowntree Foundation by the New Policy Institute.

The rate of inflation is now above the Bank of England's 2.65 per cent forecast for the entirety of the second quarter of 2017. While wage growth is weak, there are other signs of continued strength in the British labour market. "This will help firms compete on the global stage, boosting United Kingdom productivity and growth".

"The pick-up in employment growth is encouraging". "This is hard to square given recent survey data, which suggests the outlook for hiring is more muted".

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TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: "Today's fall in real wages risks tipping working people into another living standards crisis, and that poses a major challenge for whoever forms the next government". Real wages take into account the effect of inflation on the purchasing power of the money in employees' pockets.

Average weekly earnings including bonuses, meanwhile, climbed 2.4% in the first quarter, in line with forecast and slightly higher than the 2.3% gain recorded in the previous month. Indeed, unemployment has fallen in every region except London and the South East.

"With bond yields unattractive, retired savers may be tempted to increase equity exposure, but equity valuations look toppy in a number of major markets", he said.

That's because our productivity is falling: in the first three months of this year, it fell sharply by 0.5%, taking us back to the same level as in 2008.

Earlier this month, the central bank left key policy rate unchanged at 6.25 per cent for the third review in a row, citing upside risks to inflation.

With rising inflation and wage growth starting to slow, consumers are beginning to feel a squeeze on their disposable income.