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EDITIONS
 Wednesday, 15 January, 2003, 10:14 GMT
UK unemployment edges lower
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The number of people in work has continued to rise
The latest UK unemployment figures have shown a small fall in the number of jobless.

On the measure of unemployment to which the government now gives most prominence, the number out of work fell by 5,000 to 1,515,000 in the three months ending in November last year. The jobless rate remained unchanged at 5.2%

The traditional measure of unemployment - counting those who are out of work and claiming benefits - fell by 5,800 to 928,300.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) also showed that average earnings increased by 3.8% in the year to November, up from October's figure of 3.7%.

More manufacturing gloom

"The figures come as no surprise, really," said Philip Shaw at Investec.

"They are in line with recent trends of unemployment continuing to trickle down."

But the ONS numbers showed that the manufacturing sector had shed 155,000 jobs since the same point a year earlier, leaving employment in the sector at 3.58 million.

The figures also showed a big rise in the number of days lost through strike action, mainly because of the firefighters dispute.

November saw 371,000 days were lost to industrial action, compared with only 42,000 the previous month.

Growth in public sector pay continued to beat the rises in the private sector.

In the year to November, public sector wage growth was 4.3%, while the private sector rose by only 3.6%.

"Average earnings growth came in...slightly above expectations of 3.7%, but still not a cause for concern and well below the (Bank of England's) implicit target of 4.5 percent," said Adam Cole, economist at Credit Agricole Indosuez.

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