The UK unemployment rate dropped unexpectedly in the three months to January, thanks to the extended furlough scheme, data from the Office for National Statistics revealed on Tuesday.

Moreover, there was small increase in the number of payroll employees in three months to February.

The unemployment rate came in at 5.0 percent in three months to January, below economists’ forecast of 5.2 percent and 5.1 percent seen in three months to December. However, the rate was 1.1 percentage points higher than a year earlier.

At the same time, the employment rate dropped 1.5 percentage points from the previous year to 75.0 percent.

The headline employment is nearing its trough, Ruth Gregory, an economist at Capital Economics, said. Still the economist expects the unemployment rate to rise to 6.0 percent by early 2022.

But the bulk of that will be driven by those who left the labor force returning once the economy reopens, rather than people losing their jobs, the economist added.
According to ONS, 68,000 more people were in payrolled employment in February when compared with January.

Data showed that growth in average total pay, including bonuses for the three months to January increased to 4.8 percent, but slightly smaller than the expected growth of 4.9 percent.

Likewise, excluding bonuses, annual growth in regular pay increased to 4.2 percent versus the forecast of 4.4 percent.

During December to February, the number of job vacancies was 26.8 percent lower than a year ago. There were 601,000 vacancies in December to February period.

The number of claimant count increased by 86,600 on month in February. The claimant count stood at 7.5 percent compared to 7.2 percent in January.


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