Unemployment in the United Kingdom fell for a fourth straight month in the three months ended May, partly due to a temporary boost in jobs in the run up to the summer Olympic Games in London.
The unemployment rate in the UK for the three-month period ending in May stood at 8.1%, down 0.2% from the previous quarter, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported on Wednesday. Analysts had predicted a rate of 8.2%.
This was the lowest since the three months to July 2011 and compared with 8.2% in the three months to April this year.
Unemployment in London fell 50,000 in the three months to May, the ONS data showed today.
The number of unemployed people in the region was 2.58 million, down 65,000 over the quarter, the ONS said. This was the lowest since the three months to August in 2011.
The claimant count rose by 6,100 last month, bringing the total number of people claiming jobless benefits to 1.6 million and marking a jobless rate of 4.9%, the ONS said. That compared with a revised 6,900 increase and a rate of 4.9% in May.
Economists last week had forecast a rise of 5,000 and a rate of 4.9%.
The ONS revised its claimant count estimate for May after originally reporting a rise of 8,100.
Meanwhile, the decision earlier this month by Bank of England (BOE) policy makers to boost asset purchases by 50 billion pounds (US$78.2 billion) to a total of 375 billion pounds wasn't unanimous, with two members of the nine-member Monetary Policy Committee voting in favour of a status quo on asset purchases.
The BOE minutes showed that all members expected the central bank's Funding for Lending Scheme to help boost credit supply and aid economic activity, with most also finding the case for boosting purchases of UK government bonds, or gilts, compelling and stronger than at the previous meeting.
Dissenters felt that the balance of risks around the inflation outlook had shifted less since the BOE's May Inflation Report. MPC members Spencer Dale and Ben Broadbent voted against boosting the asset purchase program.
The MPC voted 9-0 to leave the bank's key lending rate unchanged at 0.5%.