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Jobless rate below 4% for first time since 1975

The unemployment rate has fallen below 4% for the first time since 1975, according to official figures.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the jobless rate was 3.9% in the three months to January, down from 4% at the end of 2018.

Meanwhile wages excluding bonuses rose by 3.4%, unchanged on the previous month and still outpacing inflation.

Unemployment fell by 35,000 to 1.34 million and the number of people in work rose by 222,000 – the fastest pace of hiring in more than three years and nearly twice as strong as economists had expected.

The ONS said the employment rate had hit a new record high of 76.1% while the level of economic inactivity – covering people who are neither seeking work nor available for it – hit a record low.

ONS senior statistician Matt Hughes said: “The unemployment rate has also fallen below 4% for the first time since early 1975.”

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