United Kingdom unemployment rate rises to 4.4 percent

Report spokesperson, Rhian Murphy, said that the flat growth in the retail market was not a big surprise, with price increases across a number of products making people think about how they are spending their money.

The growth rate of the United Kingdom economy has been revised downwards for the last three months of 2017, with the United Kingdom the worst performing economy in the G7.

Household-spending growth slowed in the fourth quarter, leaving its full-year increase at 1.8 per cent, the weakest in five years.

There was also a downward revision to services sector output but the ONS says didn't impact on the headline GDP number.

The jobless rate in the United Kingdom inched up from its lowest level of 4.3% in more than four decades in December to 4.4%, against analyst consensus of the unchanged unemployment rate.

This was "in part reflecting a small downward revision to the estimated output of the production industries".

In addition, ONS figures revealed a better-than-expected rise in wages - earnings rose by 2.5% year-on-year, excluding bonuses.

United Kingdom plc grew by 0.4 per cent in the fourth quarter, slightly lower than the initial official estimate of 0.5 per cent.

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"The significant number of unfilled vacancies means that the problem is more about not having the right workers available rather than the economy not creating enough jobs", said Yael Selfin, chief economist at KPMG in London.

Sterling remained under pressure following the update, slipping 0.2 per cent against the USA dollar at 1.38.

The Bank of England is anticipating a pick-up in wage growth soon - a key reason why it recently signalled that interest rates were likely to rise faster and to a greater extent than previously thought.

UK-wide, the quarterly increase in unemployment was 0.1 per cent.

Britain's powerhouse services sector, which counts for almost 80% of economic growth, expanded by 0.6% during the three-month period thanks to a robust performance from business and financial services.

On net trade, the deficit widened by £2.5 billion to £12.2 billion quarter on quarter following a hefty jump in the cost of imported fuels.

"The big picture has not changed", said John Hawksworth of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). What's more, high inflationary levels have continued to place pressure upon household incomes in recent months.

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