UK jobs hit record high ahead of September furlough expiry By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: People walk during the morning rush hour in the financial district of Canary Wharf amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in London, Britain September 28, 2020. REUTERS/Toby Melville

LONDON (Reuters) -British employers added 207,000 staff in September, taking their payrolls to a record high shortly before the end of the government’s wage subsidies programme, figures showed on Tuesday.

Separate official data showed the unemployment rate was 4.5% in the three months to August.

Economists polled by Reuters had expected the unemployment rate to fall to 4.5% from 4.6% in the three months to July.

Finance minister Rishi Sunak said the government was committed to helping people find work after the expiry of the furlough scheme which is believed to have covered around 1 million people when it ended on Sept. 30.

Average weekly earnings were 7.2% higher than in the same three months of 2020, slowing from the previous reading of 8.3%.

Excluding bonuses, earnings rose by 6.0% in the June-August period, also losing some momentum.

The ONS estimated the underlying pace of wage growth, taking into account how job losses during the coronavirus lockdowns affected predominantly lower-paid workers, stood between 4.1% and 5.6% for regular pay in nominal terms.

The Bank of England is monitoring pay growth as it tries to gauge how persistent a recent jump in inflation is likely to be.

The BoE is also watching to see how many more people became unemployed after the end of the furlough programme.

It has signalled it is gearing up for its first interest rate hike since the coronavirus pandemic struck.

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