United Kingdom employment rises for the first time in nearly two years

UK workers

The number of people in work rose 88,000 sequentially to 32.15 million.

'All told, then, the latest GDP data suggest that the economy remains in a fragile state and does not need to be cooled with another rate rise as soon as May'.

The UK economy grew less than estimated in the fourth quarter, partly reflecting revision to production output, the second estimate from the Office for National Statistics showed Thursday. Trade contributed 0.4 percentage point to growth in 2017, the first time it's added to the expansion over a full year since 2011.

In other words, the downward revision is in line the BoE's view of the economy and so may not deter the Monetary Policy Committee from the more hawkish path it set itself on in February's inflation report.

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However, Samuel Tombs, Pantheon Macroeconomics chief United Kingdom economist, said: "This is not an economy that needs cooling with higher interest rates".

The O.N.S. attributed the rise in unemployment to fewer economically inactive people - those neither working nor looking for a job - entering unemployment, rather than employed people losing their jobs.

In December alone, total pay jumped by 2.8 percent, up from 2.3 percent in November. However, when taking inflation into consideration, average weekly earnings for employees in real terms actually fell by 0.3% both including and excluding bonuses. But that was still weaker than the 3 percent reading of British consumer price inflation for December.

BoE policymakers will be watching closely for signs that employers - who have found it harder to recruit workers since the 2016 Brexit vote - have offered improved pay settlements at the start of the year.

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These figures signify a change in the trend of unemployment falling since June 2015.

GDP per head, which strips out the effects of a rising population, grew by 0.2 per cent in the fourth quarter, meaning it is only three per cent above the peak hit before the financial crisis. The number of Eastern European workers fell. On Wednesday it said it now looked clear that Hammond would undershoot this "by a significant margin".

Chief secretary to the Treasury, Elizabeth Truss said: "These are strong borrowing figures, which is proof that we are fixing out nation's finances and reducing the burden on future generations".

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