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UK Jobless Claims Rate Hits Lowest Level Since 1975

The UK labour market continues to look very healthy, with the claimant count falling for the fourteenth consecutive to take both the level and the rate to their lowest levels since 1975, official figures showed.

The Office of National Statistics said the claimant count, measuring the number of Britons claiming the jobseeker's allowance, fell by 11,100 in November, substantially beating forecasts for a 5,000 fall.

The claimant count has now fallen for 14 months in a row, the longest run off alls since June 2003 to January 2005's 20-month run.

The falls have taken the claimant count rate to 2.5 percent, unchanged from October which was revised from the previous estimate of 2.6 percent. The last time the claimant count was this low was in April 1975.

The claimant count level now stands at 813,000, the lowest it has been since June 1975.

In October, the claimant count fell by 10,600, revised down from the previous estimate of a 9,900 drop.

Meanwhile, another key measure of unemployment showed a similar pattern.

The wider ILO measure of unemployment fell 15,000 in the three months to October to 1.64 million people. On a year-on-year basis the measure was down 59,000.

This took the ILO unemployment rate down to 5.3 percent from 5.4 percent, its lowest level since January to March 2006 and beating forecasts for an unchanged rate.

Meanwhile, the Bank of England may be reassured by the ONS' earnings data, which stayed relatively subdued. Average earnings including bonuses rose by 4.0 percent in the three months, down from 4.1 percent in the quarter to September and confounding expectations for a rise of 4.2 percent.

This leaves the rate remaining comfortably below the 4.5 percent level that the Bank of England deems consistent with its 2.0 percent CPI inflation target.

Stripping out the bonus element, earnings growth was 3.6 percent, down from 3.7 percent in the previous three months and again lower than expectations for another3.7 percent rise.

Elsewhere, the figures continued to show a rise in employment levels.

The ONS said the employment rate was 74.5 percent in the three months to October, against 74.4 percent in the three months to September.

The total employment level was 29.29 million, up 114,000 on the previous month and up 226,000 year on year. The manufacturing sector, however, continues to shed jobs.

The number of manufacturing jobs fell to 2.91 million, a drop of 38,000 or1.3 percent from the same period a year earlier and again marking the lowest level since records began in 1978.

Manufacturing productivity rose by 2.6 percent in the three months to October from a year before, while manufacturing unit wage costs fell 0.1 percent.