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MNI DATA IMPACT: Public Sector and Women Lift Jobs Market>

By Irene Prihoda and Laurie Laird 
     LONDON (MNI) - The robust UK jobs market showed some nascent signs 
of vulnerability in February, even as public sector hiring lifted total 
earnings in the three months to January. 
The following are the key points from the November to January employment 
reported released on Tuesday by the Office for National Statistics. 
     - Employment rose by a higher-than-expected 184,000 in the three 
months to January, leaving the employment rate at a joint record-high 
76.5%. Women accounted for more than 90% of those new jobs.   
     - A significant fall in the inactivity rate to a record-low 20.4% 
suggested an influx of job seekers, lifting the unemployment rate to 
3.9%, the first annual rise since early summer of 2012. 
     - The public sector, particularly the National Health Service, 
appears to be driving a significant portion of employment growth.  NHS 
employment rose to a record high 31.7% of all public sector roles and 
5.2% of all jobs, the highest ratio since 2010. 
     - More recent experimental data suggest a slight cooling in the 
jobs market, with the unemployment rate rising to 4.0% in January from 
3.8% in December, while the claimant rate rose by 0.1 percentage point 
to 3.5%, the highest level since January of 2014. But vacancies 
increased by 19,000 in the three months to February to 817,000. 
     - The Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee did not devote 
much discussion to the employment situation when considering last week's 
emergency interest rate cut, according to minutes of that meeting.  
Members concluded that the "shock" from Covid-19, while, "highly 
uncertain" ...would likely materially weaken activity "over the coming 
     - Bonus pay, particularly in the public sector, lifted total wage 
growth to an annual rate of 3.1% in the three months to January from a 
2.9% gain in the fourth quarter. Public sector bonuses, excluding 
financial services, increased by 4.6%, outpacing the 3.8% gain in the 
wider economy, the first increase after three straight periods of 
     - Regular earnings growth -- excluding bonuses -- decelerated to an 
annual rate of 3.1%, the slowest pace since the three months to August 
of 2018, from a 3.2% increase in Q4. 
-London bureau: 44 (0) 203 865 3812; email:

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