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Unemployment rises at sharpest rate for nearly five years

PUBLISHED: 09:57 21 February 2018 | UPDATED: 11:52 21 February 2018

Unemployment has risen in the East of England. 

Picture: James Bass

Unemployment has risen in the East of England. Picture: James Bass

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2009

Unemployment saw the sharpest rise in nearly five years despite there being fewer people neither working nor looking for a job.

Unemployment increased by 46,000 between October and December to 1.47 million, official figures show.

However, the claimant count fell by 7,200 last month to 823,000, said the Office for National Statistics.

Average earnings increased by 2.5% in the year to December, unchanged from the previous month, said the Office for National Statistics.

The East of England saw an increase of 0.6% in unemployment up to 4.2% of 16 to 64-year-olds in the period from October to December, compared to July to September.

Senior ONS statistician Matt Hughes said: “While this is the sharpest increase in the unemployment level ONS has seen in almost five years, the number of people in work has continued to rise and there are fewer ‘economically inactive’ people – those neither working nor looking for a job.

“Earnings continue to grow more slowly than prices.

“Rising employment this past year was largely driven by UK nationals. In particular, fewer citizens of the eastern European countries that joined the EU in 2004 and of non-EU countries were in work than in the year before. But it’s important to remember these figures simply look at the number of people in work, and aren’t a measure of migration.”

The claimant count rose across the board in Norfolk, Fenland and Waveney with Breckland, Great Yarmouth and Norwich among the largest risers.

The measure includes those on universal credit which does not necessarily mean they are out of work.

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