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Expectations for UK economy fall to lowest level since 2011

Public expectations for how the UK economy will fare over the next 12 months are at their lowest level in more than seven years, according to a new report released today.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has said the outlook for the general economic situation for the year ahead is worse than at any point since the final quarter of 2011.

Expectations for higher unemployment for the year ahead have also been climbing and are now higher than at any point for the past five-and-a-half years.

The data, sourced from a Eurobarometer consumer survey, comes days after the ONS found that the British economy shrank for the first time in nearly seven years during the second quarter of 2019.

Over the three months to June, output fell 0.2 per cent, missing expectations of a flat performance and dropping 0.5 per cent compared with the previous year.

Amanda Mackenzie, chief executive of charity Business in the Community, said: “If this latest survey is anything to go by, the British public has got its finger firmly on the pulse of the UK economy.

“Prescient Brits have been expecting higher unemployment and for the general economic situation to deteriorate, and following last week’s negative GDP number they may well be proved right.”

She added: “With a no-deal Brexit looming, the UK economy is arguably at its most crucial juncture for a decade and it’s no surprise people feel less secure about their jobs and the broader economic picture.

“Staff anxiety levels will almost certainly increase if we enter a turbulent period for the UK economy and businesses have a key role to play in their employees’ wellbeing, not just economic but personal.”

Today’s report, which was focused on personal and economic well-being in the UK, also found that net financial wealth per head increased by three per cent for the quarter ending March 2019 compared to the same quarter a year ago, led by increases in equity and investment fund shares.

By Sebastian McCarthy

Source: City AM

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United Kingdom unemployment rate falls to 3.8%; wages rise 3.2%

A record 71.8% of working-age women were in employment between January and March this year, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). With the United Kingdom hovering close to full employment, the unemployment rate at its lowest since 1974 and the inactivity rate remaining low, there is very little spare capacity in the labour market – and the gap is being filled by ambitious foreign workers who see the chance to build a career in Britain.

The unemployment rate in Britain has fallen to the lowest rate since 1974, with just over a third of those joining the workforce in the previous year coming from outside the European Union.

Excluding bonuses, average weekly earnings for employees rose by 3.3%.

British Employment Minister Alok Sharma applauded the lowest unemployment rate since the 1970s, but called on workers to improve their skills in a bid to “create a modern workforce fit” for new challenges.

Mike Jakeman, senior economist at PwC, said: “It is possible to see the shadow of Brexit in some of these figures”.

Tony Wilson, director of the Institute for Employment Studies, said: “On the face of it, today’s jobs figures look like more of the same – the employment rate is holding steady at a record 76.1%, year-on-year earnings growth above 3%, and unemployment falling yet again, to just 3.8%”.

The strength of the labour market has pushed wages up more quickly than the Bank of England has forecast, leading some economists to think it might raise interest rates faster than investors expect once the Brexit uncertainty clears.

The unemployment rate for women has shown a smaller fall over this period – from 6.4% to 3.7%.

The ONS said that 32.71 million people were in employment, an annual rise of 354,000.

The latest data shows that over the last five years the unemployment rate for men has fallen from 7.0% to 3.9%, the ONS said.

For men the rate was 3.9%, the lowest since mid 1975. This is because falls in the employment rate for men have been roughly offset by population increases. Pension rule changes that force women nearing retirement to work longer have also had an impact.

What is happening to wages and jobs?

While average real wages – adjusted for inflation – were the highest since December 2010, the TUC said the rate of growth was slowing.

“This will come as a relief to employers who have been subjected to increasing pressure from workers to raise pay without accompanying productivity growth”, said Davies. “The last thing workers need is another hit in the pocket when real wages are still lower than a decade ago”.

“The employment rate for young people in Scotland rose to 59.3%, higher than the United Kingdom rate of 54.6%”.

By Marco Green

Source: Click Lancashire