UK’s Unemployment Level Improves Despite COVID Restrictions

The United Kingdom’s Office for National Statistics reported recently that the unemployment rate stood at 4.9% in the three months to February, better than expectations of 5.1% and below the previous reading of 5%.

Claimant count change stood at 10.100 in March, after being at 86.600 in February and against forecasts of 24.500. The claimant count rate was at 7.3% in March, remaining unchanged from February. In yearly terms, average earnings in the three months to February rose by 4.5%, lower than expectations of 4.8%. Average earnings excluding bonus was better at 4.4%, while expectations were of 4.2%.

According to the ONS, this fall in the unemployment level can be linked to a large volume of men leaving the labor market, as the inactivity rate went up by 0.2%.

“The latest figures suggest that the jobs market has been broadly stable in recent months after the major shock of last spring,” stated the ONS.

After this data was released, Finance Minister Rishi Sunak commented that he will continue focusing on protecting, supporting and creating new jobs.

“As we progress on our roadmap to recovery I will continue to put people at the heart of the government’s response through our plan for jobs – supporting and creating jobs across the country,” Sunak commented.

The UK continues struggling against the spread of the COVID-19 virus, which so far has infected 4,390,783 individuals with 127,274 deaths, making it one of the most affected countries in Europe. The government continues advancing its vaccination campaign, which has been successful, with around 10 million people having received their second dose of the vaccine.

The United Kingdom’s GDP declined by 9.9% last year, the biggest decline ever registered, mainly due to the pernicious effects of lockdowns on economic activity. Now that the country is reopening, the economy is expected to recover, with forecasts of a 5.5% expansion in the second quarter, and of 3% in the third quarter.

The pound sterling has been rising against the US dollar mainly due to the relative weakness of the latter, hitting a six-week high on Tuesday. By 11:36 GMT, the pound remained almost steady against the US dollar, hitting the 1.3984 level.

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