UK unemployment rate drops slightly to 7.4 per cent as recovery gathers pace

LONDON – Official figures show that Britain’s unemployment rate has dropped to 7.4 per cent for the three months ending in October, further evidence that the recovery is gathering pace.

The Office of National Statistics said Wednesday that the rate was down 0.3 percentage points compared to the previous period from May to July. The fall was bigger than anticipated in the markets and takes the rate nearer to the 7 per cent threshold the Bank of England has said will prompt an assessment of policy.

Governor Mark Carney has insisted that the Bank would not act prematurely — nor automatically — when the threshold is reached. However, the recent falls in unemployment has prompted economists to predict that the bank will raise interest rates sooner than anticipated.