The number of people claiming unemployment benefit in Britain unexpectedly fell in July despite the shock decision by voters to leave the European Union. As Julian Satterthwaite reports, it suggests there’s been little immediate impact from Brexit on the labour market.
A glimmer of hope for the UK economy. Jobless numbers posting a surprise fall in July. That snaps a run of grim data following the shock vote for Brexit. (SOUNDBITE) (English) REUTERS UK ECONOMICS EDITOR, BILL SCHOMBERG, SAYING: "Economists had been expecting jobless claims to rise by nine thousand, and in fact the number fell by about nine thousand, so it went completely the opposite direction to what people were expecting. So it was a surprise. We saw some of that reflected in the initial market reaction. Sterling rose because it looked like the economy wasn't in the bad shape that people had been expecting." Uncertainty over the how and when of Brexit still hanging over the economy. The Bank of England predicts jobless numbers will rise by a quarter of a million following the decision to quit the EU. Surveys of business confidence also slumping. But Britain's shoppers may be made of sterner stuff: (SOUNDBITE) (English) REUTERS UK ECONOMICS EDITOR, BILL SCHOMBERG, SAYING: "Surveys showed an initial slide in consumer confidence, but there are signs that consumers have gotten over that, and consumers are quite important because they really drove the economic recovery in the last few years. It will be important to see how employers invest going forwards, that's one of the key questions." Not long to wait for the next big number. July retail sales figures out Thursday. They may show whether shoppers really are keeping calm, and carrying on.