UK jobs report shows Unemployment Rate at 4.3%, wage growth at record high

  • The UK Unemployment Rate ticked higher to 4.3% in the three months to July.
  • The UK Average Earnings excluding bonuses rose 7.8% 3M YoY July vs. 7.8% expected.
  • The UK jobs report, published by the Office for National Statistics, fails to move the Pound Sterling.  

The United Kingdom’s (UK) ILO Unemployment Rate climbed to 4.3% in the quarter through July from the 4.2% growth seen during the three months to June, according to the official data published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on Tuesday. Markets had expected an increase to 4.3% in the reported period.

The Claimant Count Change also showed a small increase. The number of people claiming jobless benefits rose by 0.9K in July, as against the previous month’s 29K.

The UK economy saw an employment loss of 207K in July, having shedded 66K jobs in June. The market consensus was for a -185K figure.

The UK’s Average Earnings, excluding bonuses, rose 7.8% 3Mo/YoY July, compared with a 7.8% increase in the previous period while meeting expectations of a 7.8% clip. The gauge including bonuses came in at 8.5% 3Mo/YoY through the seventh month of the year versus 8.2% previous and 8.2% expected.

"Wage growth remains high, partly reflecting one-off payments to public sector workers, but for real wages to grow sustainably we must stick to our plan to halve inflation," the UK Finance Minister Jeremy Hunt said.

The UK Minister for Employment, Guy Opperman MP told FXStreet: "This Government's record on employment is clear; there are one million fewer workless households than in 2010 and the number of people on company payrolls is a near record high. But we are not complacent about the challenges we face, which is why we remain focused on removing barriers to help people find and succeed in work.”

"Our £3.5 billion package to deliver more tailored job support combined with our expanded childcare offer will help unlock individuals' potential and grow the economy,” the Minister added.

GBP/USD reaction

GBP/USD fails to find any inspiration from the mixed UK employment data. The pair is keeping its range near 1.2510, as of writing, almost unchanged on the day.

Pound Sterling price today

The table below shows the percentage change of Pound Sterling (GBP) against listed major currencies today. Pound Sterling was the strongest against the New Zealand Dollar.

USD   0.10% -0.01% 0.07% 0.13% 0.11% 0.23% 0.05%
EUR -0.10%   -0.10% -0.05% 0.02% 0.01% 0.13% -0.05%
GBP 0.00% 0.09%   0.08% 0.14% 0.12% 0.23% 0.04%
CAD -0.07% 0.03% -0.07%   0.08% 0.05% 0.18% -0.01%
AUD -0.15% -0.02% -0.13% -0.07%   -0.02% 0.11% -0.06%
JPY -0.12% 0.00% -0.11% -0.04% -0.01%   0.12% -0.06%
NZD -0.24% -0.15% -0.25% -0.17% -0.11% -0.13%   -0.19%
CHF -0.06% 0.03% -0.05% 0.01% 0.06% 0.06% 0.18%  

The heat map shows percentage changes of major currencies against each other. The base currency is picked from the left column, while the quote currency is picked from the top row. For example, if you pick the Euro from the left column and move along the horizontal line to the Japanese Yen, the percentage change displayed in the box will represent EUR (base)/JPY (quote).

The section below was published at 3:00 GMT as the preview for the UK employment data release.

  • Office for National Statistics will release the UK labor market report at 06:00 GMT on September 12.
  • The Unemployment Rate in the United Kingdom is set to rise to 4.3% in the quarter to July.
  • The UK jobs and wage inflation data could have a strong bearing on the BoE interest rate outlook.

Following the recent dovish remarks from Bank of England (BoE) Governor Andrew Bailey, the United Kingdom’s (UK) labor market report, due to be published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on Tuesday, will hold significance in gauging the next interest rate move by the central bank.   

The UK labor market cooled down slightly but wage inflation remained at elevated levels, despite the Bank of England’s (BoE) 14 interest rate hikes in a row since late 2021, to curb stubbornly high inflation.

The UK ILO Unemployment Rate jumped to a two-year high of 4.2% in the three months to June when compared to a steady print of 4.0% in the previous period. The ONS said the rise was mainly generated by an increase in people being unemployed for up to six months. The number of people claiming unemployment benefits rose by 29K in July, compared with a drop of 7.3K expected.

The UK’s Average Weekly Earnings, excluding bonuses, hit a fresh record high of 7.8% 3Mo/YoY in June versus 7.5% prior. The gauge including bonuses jumped 8.2% 3Mo/YoY in the sixth month of the year as against a 7.2% rise in May. "This total growth rate is affected by the National Health Service (NHS) one-off bonus payments made in June 2023," the ONS noted.

What to expect in the next UK jobs report?

In the three months through July, the UK ILO Unemployment Rate is expected a tad higher at 4.3% while the Employment Change is projected at -185K in July when compared to the previous reading of -66K.

The UK Average Weekly Earnings (excluding bonuses) are expected to rise 7.8% YoY through July, at the same pace as seen in the quarter to June. Average Earnings, including bonuses, are also seen steady at 8.2% 3Mo/Yr July.  

Expectations of further loosening up of the UK’s labor market and record high pay growth are likely to keep the Bank of England in a tough spot. Markets are pricing a 70% probability of a 25 basis points (bps) interest rate hike by the BoE to 5.50% on September 21.

Testifying before the UK Parliament Treasury Select Committee (TSC) last Wednesday, Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey said that Britain's high rate of inflation was heading for a further marked fall, but it was not yet clear whether that would slow the pace of wage growth which recently hit a record high.

"We are no longer in a phase where it was clear that rates needed to rise, we are now data-driven as the policy is restrictive. We are much nearer peak of rates, not saying we are at peak,” Bailey told lawmakers.

When is the UK jobs report and how could it affect GBP/USD?

Employment data from the United Kingdom is due to be published at 6:00 GMT on Tuesday, September 12. GBP/USD is extending its recovery above 1.2500, as the US Dollar resumes its correction from six-month highs heading into the US Consumer Price Index (CPI) release this week. Ahead of that, the UK labor market report will be closely examined for fresh hints on the BoE’s interest rate outlook, which could provide a clear directional impetus to the Pound Sterling.

Weak employment data combined with a sticky wage inflation print would support the narrative that the BoE interest rate could be nearing its peak. Markets could shrug off the pay growth rise due to the influence of a one-time bonus payment by the NHS. In such a scenario, The Pound Sterling is likely to come under intense selling pressure, dragging GBP/USD back toward the three-month low of 1.2447.

Should the UK economy show a robust job gain alongside an elevated wage inflation level, GBP/USD could see additional recovery unfolding toward 1.2650, in the wake of the revival of hawkish BoE rate hike expectations.

Meanwhile, Dhwani Mehta, Asian Session Lead Analyst at FXStreet, offers a brief technical outlook for the GBP/USD pair and explains: “The currency pair has managed to defend the critical 200-Daily Moving Average (DMA) at 1.2430 even though the 14-day Relative Strength Index (RSI) remains well below the midline.”

Dhwani also outlines important technical levels to trade the GBP/USD pair: “Pound Sterling sellers could aim for a retest of the 200 DMA support at 1.2430 on a downbeat UK labor market report, reopening floors toward 1.2350 psychological level. Conversely, an upside surprise in the data is needed to recapture the 1.2600 round level, above which the bearish 21 DMA at 1.2630 will be challenged.“

Economic Indicator

United Kingdom Average Earnings Excluding Bonus (3Mo/Yr)

The Average Earing Excluding Bonus released by the National Statistics is a key short-term indicator of how levels of pay are changing within the UK economy. It can be seen as a measure of growth in "basic pay". Generally speaking, the positive earnings growth anticipates positive (or bullish) for the GBP, whereas a low reading is seen as negative (or bearish).

Read more.

Next release: 10/17/2023 06:00:00 GMT

Frequency: Monthly

Source: Office for National Statistics

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