Brexit effect? Wage growth stays slow as unemployment benefit claimants rise

Emma Haslett
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Although the number of people in work has risen, those claiming jobless benefits was also up (Source: Getty)

Is this a sign the Brexit vote is beginning to have an impact on the jobs market?

Growth in average weekly earnings including bonuses remained resolutely flat at 2.3 per cent between July and September, figures published today showed - although real wage growth could only muster a disappointing 1.7 per cent.

The figures, by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), showed the employment rate remained at 74.5 per cent during the period, the joint highest since records began, while unemployment dipped by 37,000 on the previous quarter, to 1.6m.

But the claimant count edged up to 803,300 in October, from a 40-odd year low of 736,000 in February this year. That's the third month in a row it has risen.

Read more: Revealed - the 14 Google searches that can predict Britain's unemployment rate

David Freeman, a statistician at the ONS, suggested the Brexit vote may be starting to take its toll on the jobs market.

“Unemployment is at its lowest for more than ten years, and the employment rate remains at a record high. Nonetheless, there are signs that the labour market might be cooling, with employment growth slowing," he said.

John Hawksworth, chief economist at PwC, agreed.

“Unemployment tends to be a lagging indicator, and we could yet see a modest rise in the jobless total next year as uncertainty around the Brexit negotiations dampens business investment and slows overall economic growth.

"But we do not expect the UK economy to go into recession, so would not expect any large increases in unemployment."

The pound was up 0.1 per cent against the dollar at $1.2469 and 0.06 per cent against the euro, at €1.1625 in mid-morning trading

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