Today's labour market figures showed that the ILO unemployment rate rose slightly to 7.2% in the three months to December. Although this represents a break from the more positive trend we've seen for some time, the unemployment rate did fall some way over the course of 2013. In addition today's figures showed employment has continued to rise strongly.
The outlook for employment growth in 2014 remains broadly positive. PMIs for all sectors have shown that companies are taking on employees, and this month's labour market statistics show that vacancies are on the up. The number of vacancies in the whole economy increased 18% in the year to January, and the number of vacancies in the manufacturing sector increased 8.0% over the same period.
The median independent forecast for the labour market (also released today) suggests that employment will grow by 1.6% in 2014 and the unemployment rate will end the year at 6.7%.
|ILO unemployment rate||Up to|| 7.2%|
| ||ILO employment rate||Up to || 72.1%|
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| ||Claimant count rate||Down to ||3.6%|
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| ||Average weekly earnings growth||Up to||1.1%|
| ||Average weekly earnings growth (manufacturing)||Up to|| 2.5%|
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The data also showed there was some modest improvement on average earnings growth, which increased to 1.1% from 0.9% previously. Though still below the rate of inflation, this does suggest the squeeze on incomes is starting to ease off. In the manufacturing sector, the picture is considerably stronger, with average earnings having risen 2.5% over the year. We will blog in more detail about our own Pay Settlements data on Tuesday next week.