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Inflation surges to four-year high in April
20 May 2017, 02:45 | Kelvin Horton
India's April retail inflation seen easing to three-month low
The government cut regulated energy prices in the first quarter, and the utilities segment clipped -0.01pp from headline inflation.
Employment has increased by 122,000 to nearly 32 million, the highest since records began in 1971, reported the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
Overall, the data is likely to bolster the BoE's view that it should keep interest rates at a record just above zero, despite the sharp rise in inflation so far this year which is likely to hit 3 per cent before long, according to economists.
The Office for National Statistics said the number of people unemployed fell by 53,000 to 1.54 million in the three months to March.
The think tank expects the unemployment rate to rise from 4.8% at the end of this year to 5.4% in 2018 and 5.8% in 2019.
However, despite the high level of employment, the prospects for tighter monetary policy in the near term are limited by the slow pick-up in wages.
Excluding bonuses, earnings rose by 2.1 percent at the beginning of 2017 year on year. Real wages take into account the effect of inflation on the purchasing power of the money in employees' pockets.
Finance minister Philip Hammond said he expected a less prolonged squeeze this time because the rise in inflation would be transient.
The jump in inflation was mainly driven by air fares - they increase during the Easter holidays, which this year fell in April rather than March.
Instead, the Bank has softened its previous forecasts for a rise in unemployment which it expects to stand at 4.7 per cent this year, still above the level which it considers inflationary. Sterling's slump the cause of inflationHannah Maundrell, editor in chief of money.co.uk, put the blame for the inflation rise squarely on the slump in sterling's value in the wake of last year's European Union referendum.
In nominal terms, average weekly earnings rose 2.1% ex-bonuses, which was worse than the 2.2% increase the market expected and the smallest gain since July of a year ago, while the 2.4% gain including bonuses was in line with forecasts. On a monthly basis, consumer price growth grew just 0.1%.
But adjusted for inflation, regular wages in the first quarter fell by 0.2%, the first decline in real wages since 2014.
The retail prices index, which includes the impact of mortgage costs, rose to 3.5%, up from 3.1% in March. Output or factory gate prices were unchanged at 3.6% y/y, beating forecasts of 3.4% but below February's peak of 3.7%.
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