British labor market remained tense in early 2019 British labor market remained tense in early 2019, when unemployment reached its lowest level in 44 years, and wage inflation rose at the fastest pace after the financial crisis, despite fears of a UK exit from the European Union.
The unemployment rate unexpectedly fell to 3.9% in the three months to January, the lowest level since January 1975, while the number of employees increased by 222,000, which is the largest increase since 2015.
Average income excluding bonuses continued to grow at the fastest pace after the financial crisis more than 10 years ago, rising 3.4% in the three months to January. This was higher than forecast growth of 3.2%.
Data that was unexpectedly published 12 minutes earlier than the scheduled time had little impact on the pound rate, despite strong data amid the uncertainty associated with the subsequent steps in the Brexit process.
Given the lack of clarity regarding UK exit from the EU, reliable labor market data is unlikely to affect expectations that the Bank of England will leave its monetary policy unchanged. The bank will announce its interest rate decision on Thursday.
Before Brexit and the wider global slowdown began to put pressure on the economy, the Bank of England pointed out that "several" interest rate rises may be needed to return the policy to neutral. Bank Governor Mark Carney, at his last press conference, said interest rates could go either way.
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