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Gloucestershire Business News

Jobless total rises to 4.4%

Heaping more campaign pressure on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, fresh figures from the Office for National Statistics landed this morning as the Conservative party revealed its full manifesto.

And the ONS stats show an unexpected rise by 138,000 in the jobless total to the highest point for two and a half years after three previous quarterly rises.

The ONS rate climbed to 4.4% in the three months to April – taking the market to the highest point since September 2021.

Furthermore, despite this rise, wage growth remained strong and earnings continued to rise faster than prices - a fact that immediately raised expectations that any cut in lending rates will be pushed back.

Overall, the number of people not working due to longterm illness rose by 55,000 to 2.83 million - signalling another new record. And despite an increase in the national minimum wage by nearly 10%, which changed the pay packets of more than three million workers, there was also some evidence in the ONS findings to suggest pay growth may have peaked.

The figures showed that annual growth in average earnings in the three months to April came to 5.9% across all sectors, haing stayed the same since March, while in the private sector the growth rate flattened from 6.1% to 5.8%.

In terms of vacancies, the overall number has also continued to fall with the total of unfilled posts dropping by 12,000 to 904,000 (in the three months to May).

Yael Selfin, of KMPG UK told the Guardian: "The recent weakening in demand for staff has been attributed to a lack of roles and firms delaying hiring decisions. This is consistent with a broader trend of retaining existing labour, and could signal that firms expect a pickup in activity so that they could utilise their existing staff more."

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