LONDON (AFP) - Britain's unemployment rate has hit a fresh six-year low of 5.6 per cent, official data showed Wednesday, in upbeat news for the government before the May 7 election.
The jobless rate for December-February was down from 5.7 per cent for the three months to the end of January, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said in a statement.
The number of unemployed slid 76,000 to 1.84 million people during the quarter, the lowest level for nearly seven years.
And employment struck a record high of 31 million people, after an increase of more than half a million in the past year.
In addition, average earnings increased by 1.7 per cent in the year to February, up 0.2 percentage points on the previous month.
Economists said the data boosted Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government, which faces a general election next month.
"The final jobs and earnings data before May's general election provide a double dose of good news for the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats," noted IHS Global Insight economist Howard Archer.
He said: "Annual average earnings growth of 1.7 per cent in the three months to January is still 1.7 percentage points above consumer price inflation of 0.0 percent ... so consumers are seeing a marked pick-up in their purchasing power."
The ONS added that the so-called claimant count sank for a 29th month in March to 772,400 people - which was the lowest since 1975.