The labour market was broadly stable in December. Unadjusted, the number of people out of work rose some 10,144 or 6.8 percent to 159,372 and lifted the jobless rate by 0.2 percentage points to 3.5 percent. However, this was only in line with the typical seasonal pattern at year-end. Seasonally adjusted, unemployment fell 206 or 0.1 percent to 148,872 but left the adjusted rate unchanged at 3.3 percent. The results were in line with market expectations.
Vacancies followed a similar path although the underlying trend was rather more optimistic. Hence, while unadjusted they were fell nearly 11 percent on the month, compared with a year ago they rose fully 20 percent. Seasonally adjusted the monthly change was 2.6 percent.
The December jobless data are consistent with other recent indicators pointing to a potentially significant acceleration in real GDP growth last quarter.