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ANALYST VIEWS: WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE LATEST FIGURES AND DO THEY SHOW THE REAL PICTURE?

HETAL MEHTA | ERNST & YOUNG ITEM CLUB
Today’s data gives yet more weight to the idea that the labour market is performing better than the economy as a whole.
Not only has unemployment fallen significantly, while it is unusual to see unemployment fall at this stage of the cycle, the detailed figures do not give a reason for too much optimism.

ALAN CLARKE | BNP PARIBAS
Overall, the improvement in claimant count unemployment should not come as a surprise. There will be a lot more of this in other indicators as the effect of the big thaw arrives. On earnings, it is a case of wait and see. Even if it does spike higher, since it is due to base effects we believe that the MPC will not overreact to this.

GRAEME LEACH | INSTITUTE OF DIRECTORS
While it’s reassuring to see that unemployment is not rising, this is partly due to a big increase in the number of people dropping out of the labour market altogether. A second reason is that working fewer hours during the recession helped contain the increase in unemployment. This probably means that increased working hours in the recovery will reduce any gains in employment. It will be a tough year for businesses and employees.