Commenting on the labour market statistics for December 2016, published today by the Office for National Statistics, Suren Thiru, Head of Economics at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said:

“The labour market remains a source of strength for the UK economy. The number of people in work remains close to historically high levels, with unemployment levels continuing to fall.

“However, there are signs that the UK labour market may be beginning to cool, with a small fall in employment and the continued rise in the claimant count measure.

“It is likely that UK unemployment will start to drift upwards in the coming months, as uncertainty over Brexit and the increasing input costs faced by businesses weigh on jobs growth. However, while we currently forecast the unemployment rate will peak at 5.5% in early 2018, this is still well below the long-term average.

“It is vital that more is done to support firms looking to recruit and grow their business, including tackling the high input costs faced by businesses, and guaranteeing that existing EU workers can stay in UK firms.”