UK's strong jobs data masks Brexit fears

British workers saw their pay grow at the fastest pace in more than a year in the three months to November, adding to signs that the UK economy ended 2016 strongly despite the shock of the Brexit vote. The outlook still looks uncertain for some.

LONDON (REUTERS) - With Theresa May delivering a vision of a hard exit from Europe, Brexit hit the headlines again.

However, it hasn't hit the UK jobs market yet.

Wages show their strongest increase in over two years - the jobless rate lower than it's been for a decade.

Panmure Gordon Chief Economist Simon French said, "This morning we had data, very upbeat employment data out of the UK. We saw unemployment down in nominal numbers and then also the unemployment rate steady at 4.8 per cent, wages up 2.7 per cent. So a very healthy set of numbers."

But the numbers come with an amber warning.

Higher wage bills for firms like this carrot processing factory in eastern England are squeezing margins.

They supply vegetables to Marks & Spencers, Morrisons and other big UK retailers.

It's not quite so easy to pass extra costs on to them, and there's a squeeze of another kind - as some workers look for the door.

Director Simon Pearce of Alfred G Pearce said: "We're struggling to fill positions at the minute. It's a very fluid market place with inflation in wages in our sector at the minute, which has been driven by some EU citizens going home and moving from the UK market place and it's creating a vacuum."

Inflation is currently at 1.6 per cent - and could peak at three per cent this year.

A new poll also shows that consumer spending may slow.

Despite the strong data, the number of people in work slipped for the second time in a row.

Pick through those numbers, and Brexit Britain looks a little less bright.