What's going on?
Slogging, slaving or just cruising along: however they find the work itself, the number of Brits with jobs is at an all-time high, according to figures out Wednesday. The good news helped propel the pound to its highest level since the Brexit vote, relative to the US dollar. Cracking stuff!
What does this mean?
UK employment rose by 102,000 in the three months up to November, with the percentage of people out of work static at 4.3%. This was unexpected, as observers had predicted the number of breadwinners would fall.
What’s even more eyebrow-raising is the fact that these new jobs aren’t all bike couriers and freelance vegan nootropics consultants (tweet this). They’re largely full-time positions, and with decent compensation: after many quarters of pay packet increases lagging behind price rises, wage growth is now (slowly) catching up.
Why should I care?
For markets: The pound gobbled it up.
The cheery data helped the good old British pound rise to its highest level versus the dollar since the UK voted to leave the EU in June 2016, jumping a notable 1.5% (aided, to be fair, by the dollar itself weakening). Remember, international investors like to invest in economies that are doing well, which involves buying their currency.
The bigger picture: The UK economy is sticking up a Churchillian two fingers to the naysayers.
There were those who said that the British economy would tank in the face of leaving the EU – and it’s true that much of the impact of that decision is still to be felt. Yet the fair folk of Albion have, so far, defied all expectations, doing far better than most economists were expecting in the event of a “Leave” vote. The increasing likelihood of a transitional Brexit arrangement, which could cushion the near-term economic blow of leaving the EU, may also have helped boost the pound recently.