UK unemployment dips to 5pc

LONDON (AFP) – Britain’s unemployment rate dipped to five per cent in the three months to the end of January, remaining close to five-year highs on the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, official data showed yesterday.

The rate compared with 5.1 per cent in the three months to the end of December, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said in a statement.

“The United Kingdom (UK) unemployment rate, in the three months to January 2021, was estimated at five per cent, 1.1 percentage points higher than a year earlier,” the ONS said.

Analysts said that while the rate had steadied thanks to the UK government’s jobs support package paying the bulk of wages for millions of private-sector workers, unemployment was set to shoot higher once the taps are turned off.

“The stability of the unemployment rate at… five per cent in January highlights once again the extent to which the government’s job furlough scheme has protected jobs during the pandemic,” noted senior UK economist at Capital Economics research group Ruth Gregory.

“We still expect the unemployment rate to rise further to a peak of six per cent by early 2022 but that would be a much better result than most feared only a few months ago.”

Hopes that the British economy can rebound solidly from have been boosted by the UK’s rapid rollout of its vaccination programme.