CBI calls for investment as unemployment figures hit record low

UK unemployment fell by 37,000 to 1.6 million in the three months to September, its lowest level for 11 years, according to data published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

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The latest figures prompted the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) to once again call for Chancellor Philip Hammond to prioritise business investment in the forthcoming Autumn Statement.

Josh Hardie, Deputy Director-General of the CBI, said: ‘While the labour market remains in decent health there are some concerning trends, such as the increasing claimant count.

‘With the economy entering a more challenging phase, businesses are already changing processes to increase their productivity, and will be looking for measures to support their efforts in next week’s Autumn Statement, such as investment in innovation and infrastructure.’

The ONS report shows that the unemployment rate fell to 4.8% in the three month period – the lowest since 2005 – while the number of people in work rose by 49,000.

The total number of people in jobs remained at a record high of 31.8 million, and average weekly earnings (including bonuses) grew by 2.3% in the year to October. The number of self-employed people increased by 213,000 to 4.79 million – 15.1% of all people in work.

However, many have noted that the rate of jobs growth has slowed, and have predicted difficulties ahead caused by the uncertainties of Brexit. Suren Thiru, Head of Economics at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said: ‘These subdued labour market and economic conditions are expected to keep a lid on wage growth over the next year, despite higher than expected levels of inflation.’

He also called for the Chancellor to act in the Autumn Statement, requesting measures that would ‘support firms looking to recruit and invest in their workforce, including measures to boost investment and lower upfront business costs’.

Earlier this week, Consumer Prices Index (CPI) inflation fell to 0.9% from 1% in September, surprising economists, most of whom had predicted an inflation rise.

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