United Kingdom figures reveal 1.47 million people out of work

Separate ONS figures also revealed that output per hour, the main measure of labour productivity, increased by 0.8% in the final quarter of 2017.

However, the ONS noted that level of people in employment continued to rise over the quarter, increasing by 88,000.

The unemployment rate rose to 4.4 percent from 4.3 percent, the first increase since the three months to February 2016 as the number of jobless rose for a third monthly report in a row.

The figures represent the highest unemployment rate and the biggest quarterly increase, of the four United Kingdom countries.

The total 16-plus United Kingdom employment rate rose again to 75.2 per cent, still close to a record high.

Despite the revision to GDP, John Hawksworth, PwC chief economist, said: 'The big picture has not changed.

The unemployment rate rose by 0.1 percentage points to 4.4 percent in the three months to December, data from the Office for National Statistics showed Wednesday.

The increase in the jobless rate to 4.4% surprised economists, and the pound dropped by about 0.6% against the dollar as investors pondered whether the new data could delay the next rise in United Kingdom interest rates.

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"If stronger productivity continues into 2018, the Bank of England may decide to hold at least once on raising rates this year", he noted.

The fact that there was a rise in unemployment at the same time as rising employment was explained by the fact that the number of economically inactive people - those not seeking or available to work - fell over the period.

It said average weekly earnings in the three months to December excluding bonuses were up 2.5 percent on the previous year.

With little more than a year to go to Brexit, executives will be hoping for some clarity to emerge over the coming days.

Discussions over the trading relationship between the government and the EU are due to resume soon, and many businesses, particularly in the finance sector, are hoping that a transition deal will be agreed on shortly whereby Britain will remain in the tariff-free European single market and customs union for a period after Brexit.

In the past decade, that engine of improved prosperity broke down. Versus the euro, the pound was down 0.2% at 1.29.

This was revised down from the preliminary reading of 0.5% growth as estimated output from the production industries was scaled back.

While we had had economic growth, most of it wasn't growth in the amount each worker produced or earned, but simply growth in the number of people working.

  • Darren Santiago