UK unemployment has edged up to 3.6 percent but remains close to the lowest level in almost half a century, official data showed Tuesday.
The unemployment rate increased in the three months to the end of September from 3.5 percent in the three months to the end of August, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said in a statement.
At 3.6 percent, it was around the lowest level since 1974.
At the same time sky-high inflation continues to squeeze wages, resulting in mass strike action across Britain.
“August and September saw well over half a million working days lost to strikes, the highest two-month total in more than a decade, with the vast majority coming from the transport and communications sectors,” noted Darren Morgan, director of labour and economic statistics at the ONS.
“With real earnings continuing to fall, it’s not surprising that employers we survey are telling us most disputes are about pay.”
UK annual inflation stands at more than 10 percent, the highest level in four decades, and is forecast to keep rising along with unemployment as energy bills and food prices soar.
Consumers and businesses are set for a further hit Thursday in a government budget set to include tax rises as finance minister Jeremy Hunt seeks to shore up depleted state finances.
“Tackling inflation is my absolute priority and that guides the difficult decisions on tax and spending we will make on Thursday,” Hunt said in reaction to the unemployment data, as he prepares also to announce this week cuts to state departmental budgets.
“Restoring stability and getting debt falling is our only option to reduce inflation and limit interest rate rises,” he added.