The labour market deteriorated, but only slightly, in January. Unadjusted the number of people out of work rose a hefty 5,094 or 3.2 percent on the month to 164,466. This lifted the jobless rate from 3.5 percent to a higher than expected 3.7 percent. However, the jump here was broadly in line with the usual seasonal pattern seen at the start of the year and adjusted for such factors unemployment was up just 105 or 0.1 percent at 149,217. This left the seasonally adjusted rate flat at 3.3 percent, in line with the market consensus.
There was good news on vacancies which climbed 1.7 percent on the month to stand 18.1 percent higher than in January 2016.
The jobs market has been moving mainly sideways for some time now. Nonetheless, the ongoing rise in vacancies suggests that businesses are becoming cautiously more optimistic about the economic outlook and this should bode well for employment in the future.