Commenting on April's labour market figures, PwC Chief Economist John Hawksworth said:
"The UK economy has been a great job creating machine over the past seven years and employment continued to rise over the past three months. However, the rate of increase in the latest three months was slower than in most previous quarters, which may be a sign that Brexit-related uncertainty is beginning to make companies more cautious about new hiring.
One interesting feature of the latest data is that female employment rose by 60,000 in the latest three months relative to the previous three months, while male employment fell by 27,000. This is consistent with a longer term trend towards a narrowing gender employment gap, with the female employment rate hitting another record high of 72% for 16-64 year olds. Male employment is still higher at around 80%, but this is well below its historical highs of over 90% back in the 1970s.
Earnings growth had been picking up earlier this year, but now seems to have settled down at around 3.4% excluding volatile bonus payments. But this is still well above the latest consumer price inflation rate of 2.1%, so real wages continue to rise, supporting consumer spending.
Overall, the latest data does not change the big picture of a relatively strong UK labour market, but it remains to be seen if the recent slowdown in jobs growth will intensify as Brexit uncertainty persists over the coming months."
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