UK unemployment dips slightly to 7.7%

Still off 7% threshold

LONDON – Official figures show Britain’s unemployment rate dropped slightly to 7.7 per cent for the three-month period to August, further evidence that Europe’s third-largest economy continues to strengthen.

The Office of National Statistics said Wednesday that the number of those out of work dropped 0.1 percentage point from the previous three month period through May. In total, there were 2.49 million unemployed people aged 16 and over, down 18,000 from one period to the next.

The unemployment rate is now a key economic indicator for the Bank of England. The bank, which is led by new governor, Mark Carney, has said it won’t consider raising interest rates until the unemployment rate drops to 7 per cent. The bank’s main interest rate has been at a record low of 0.5 per cent since March 2009.