UK jobless rate in late-2023 much lower than earlier estimates

London: Britain’s unemployment rate was much lower late last year than previously thought, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said on Monday (Feb 5), citing re-weighted survey results that might add to the Bank of England’s (BOE) caution about cutting interest rates quickly.

The new data showed an unemployment rate of 3.9 per cent in the three months to November, compared with 4.2 per cent provided by the ONS last month on a temporary, experimental basis.

The BOE is watching Britain’s labour market closely as it considers whether inflation pressures in the economy have cooled enough for it to cut its benchmark interest rate from its highest level in nearly 16 years at 5.25 per cent.

The ONS said that Britain’s inactivity rate – measuring people out of work and not looking for it – was estimated at 21.9 per cent over the same period, up from 20.8 per cent.

The re-weighted employment rate was estimated at 75.0 per cent in the new data, versus 75.8 per cent in the experimental series.

The new estimates use the ONS’ latest estimates of the population to re-weight its Labour Force Survey (LFS).