UK unemployment rate dips to 5.0 percent: Official data

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Britain’s unemployment rate dipped to 5.0 percent 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 Tuesday,

The rate compared with 5.1 percent in the three months to the end of December, the Office for National Statistics said in a statement.

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“The UK unemployment rate, in the three months to January 2021, was estimated at 5.0 percent, 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.

A woman stands by the entrance to a job center in east London.
A woman stands by the entrance to a job center in east London.

“The stability of the unemployment rate at... 5.0 percent in January highlights once again the extent to which the government’s job furlough scheme has protected jobs during the pandemic,” noted Ruth Gregory, senior UK economist at Capital Economics research group.

“We still expect the unemployment rate to rise further to a peak of 6.0 percent 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 program.

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