London, England, United Kingdom (4E) – Joblessness in the UK declined in May but income growth continues to be weak, according to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released Wednesday, reducing the urgency on the Bank of England to increase interest rates.
Unemployment dropped by 121,000 to 2.1 million in the three-month period through May, representing 6.5 percent of the workforce. The number of jobless has dropped by 15 percent in the past year, according to the ONS, reflecting fast economic expansion.
Growth in pay is growing at a slow pace. Average weekly earnings excluding bonus payments advanced just 0.7 percent annually in the three months to May, the slowest growth rate since records gathering started in 2001, according to the ONS. Including bonuses, which climbed from a year-ago period, average earnings grew at an even smaller 0.3 percent pace.
Central bank authorities led by Gov. Mark Carney have wanted stronger income growth before they will consider increasing interest rates, which have hovered near zero since March 2009.
Wednesday’s report showed more Britons in the workforce than ever before in May, with total employment up to 30.6 million, or 73.1 percent of the workforce, the highest level records started in 1971.