DJI, the world's largest drone maker, has unveiled its smallest camera drone to date. It's a drone so small that it can take off and land from the palm of a hand. Bloomberg's Selina Wang took the new drone for a spin.
DJI, the world's largest drone maker, has unveiled its smallest camera drone to date. It's a drone so small that it can take off and land from the palm of a hand. Bloomberg's Selina Wang took the new drone for a spin.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com- – Fri, 26 May, 2017) London, Uk – –
A link to a price comparison website must be displayed “prominently” on payday loan firms' websites to help borrowers shop around.
New rules for payday loan firms have come into force, requiring online lenders to advertise on at least one price comparison website to help borrowers find the best deal.
A link to a comparison site must also be displayed “prominently” on the websites of payday loan companies.
The move follows a 20-month investigation into the payday lending sector by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in February 2015 which found a substantial gap between the cheapest and most expensive loans.
It found that a lack of price competition between lenders had led to higher costs for borrowers and many did not shop around.
This was partly because of the difficulties in accessing clear and comparable information.
The regulator also cited a lack of awareness of late fees and additional charges.
The CMA estimated borrowers could save themselves an average £60 a year by hunting down cheaper deals.
In a separate investigation, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) imposed a price cap on payday loans to help prevent borrowers from being ripped off.
That is already in force, set at 0.8% per day.
However, it is currently being reviewed by the City watchdog to find out if the cap is driving consumers to illegal loan sharks.
It forms part of a broader review of high-cost credit to see whether rules need to be extended to other types of loans.
Fixed default fees are currently capped at £15 to help protect borrowers struggling to repay.
The cap on interest rates on payday loans came into force in January 2015 after a chorus of concern about the industry.
MPs and the Church of England spoke out about the impact of very high rates on vulnerable people borrowing money to tide them over until their next payday.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Fri, 26 May, 2017) London, Uk – –
World Economic Forum says looming fourfold rise in over-65s by 2050 is financial equivalent of climate change
The retirement age in Britain and other leading developed countries will need to rise to 70 by the middle of the century to head off the biggest pension crisis in history, according to the World Economic Forum.
The body that runs the annual gathering of the global elite in Davos said deficits in the world’s six largest pension systems would more than quadruple to $224tn by 2050 unless people worked longer and saved more.
With people born today having a life expectancy of more than 100, the WEF said the cost of providing security in retirement for a rapidly ageing population was the financial equivalent of climate change.
It warned the huge and spiralling cost would imperil the incomes of future generations and set the industrial world up for the biggest pension crisis in history.
The WEF said it had examined the world’s six biggest pension saving systems – the US, the UK, Japan, the Netherlands, Canada and Australia – and found that all were coming under strain from an expected global increase in the numbers over-65s rising from 600 million to 2.1 billion in 2050.
“The anticipated increase in longevity and resulting ageing populations is the financial equivalent of climate change,” said Michael Drexler, head of financial and infrastructure systems at the WEF. “We must address it now or accept that its adverse consequences will haunt future generations, putting an impossible strain on our children and grandchildren.”
Adding in China and India, which have the world’s largest populations, the combined savings gap for the eight countries reached $400tn by 2050, a sum five times the size of the current global economy.
The report based its estimates of the pension savings gap on the amount of money needed to provide every person with a retirement income equal of 70% of their pre-retirement income. According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, a target of 70% of pre-retirement income roughly equates to an unchanged standard of living because once people retire they save less and pay less tax.
The WEF said the funding gap would continue to grow at a rate higher than the expected economic growth rate, often 4% to 5% a year, driven in part by the effects of an ageing population: a growing population of retirees who are expected to live longer in retirement.
Although Britain’s retirement age is due to rise to 67 between 2026 and 2028, the WEF said further increases would be needed to forestall a predicted increase in the pension savings’ gap from a current $8tn to $33tn by 2050. Half the children born in 2007 could expect to live until they were 103, putting a strain on the pension system. The pension savings’ gap in the US is forecast to rise almost fivefold from $28bn to $137bn by the middle of the century.
The report praised the UK for its decision to ensure that 8% of earnings will automatically be saved in a pension for each individual after 2019, noting that auto-enrolment had already boosted saving by 22- to 29-year-olds and low income workers by $2.5bn a year.
“The retirement savings challenge is at crisis point and the time to act is now,” said Jacques Goulet, president of health and wealth at Mercer, a financial services firm that helped the WEF produce the report. “There is no one ‘silver bullet’ solution to solve the retirement gap. Individuals need to increase their personal savings and financial literacy, while the private sector and governments should provide programmes to support them.”
By Larry Elliott
Businesses across the eurozone have maintained April's blistering growth rate this month, according to surveys of thousands of companies.
Their main problem is meeting growing demand, so firms said they are building up backlogs of work.
IHS Markit – which carried out the surveys – said they suggest the eurozone's economic momentum is being sustained with a good pace of broad based growth.
“The fact we have maintained this high level in May is great news for second quarter GDP,” said Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Thu, 25 May, 2017) London, Uk – –
The debt of British households will hit a record high next year, new estimates show, surpassing the pre-financial crisis peak as a surge in credit card borrowing has financed extra spending in recent months.
The average household had unsecured debts amounting to £13,200 at the end of 2016, just below the £13,300 level at the end of 2008, on the eve of the credit crunch.
Analysts at the Trades Union Congress (TUC) expect that will rise to £13,900 by the end of this year, £14,300 next year, and keep on rising to £15,400 by the end of 2021.
The figures are calculated in 2016 prices and therefore take account of the inflation that has taken place over the intervening years.
It comes after Bank of England numbers showed households racked up an extra £1.6bn in consumer debts in March.
Borrowing increased by more than 10pc compared with the same month a year earlier as households increase spending despite the squeeze on living standards which has come from slow wage growth and rising inflation.
“We’ve got this problem because wages haven’t recovered,” said the TUC’s general secretary Frances O’Grady. “Credit cards and payday loans are helping to prop up household spending for now, but millions of families are running on empty.
“The next government must act urgently to deliver the higher wages Britain needs for sustainable growth. They must boost the minimum wage, and end pay restrictions for public servants like nurses, firefighters and midwives.”
Meanwhile the average household’s disposable income – the amount they have to save or spend after paying tax and receiving benefits – rose to £19,106 in 2015, according to the Office for National Statistics.
That is up 3.7pc on the year, though prices also rose by 1.5pc over the same period so the cash figure overstates the improvement in living standards.
By Tim Wallace
(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Wed, 24 May, 2017) London, UK —
Moody's Investors Service downgraded China's credit ratings on Wednesday for the first time in nearly 30 years, saying it expects the financial strength of the economy will erode in coming years as growth slows and debt continues to rise.
The one-notch downgrade in long-term local and foreign currency issuer ratings, to A1 from Aa3, comes as the Chinese government grapples with the challenges of rising financial risks stemming from years of credit-fueled stimulus.
“The downgrade reflects Moody's expectation that China's financial strength will erode somewhat over the coming years, with economy-wide debt continuing to rise as potential growth slows,” the ratings agency said in a statement, changing its outlook for China to stable from negative.
China's Finance Ministry said the downgrade, Moody's first for the country since 1989, overestimated the risks to the economy and was based on “inappropriate methodology”.
“Moody’s views that China’s non-financial debt will rise rapidly and the government would continue to maintain growth via stimulus measures are exaggerating difficulties facing the Chinese economy, and underestimating the Chinese government’s ability to deepen supply-side structural reform and appropriately expand aggregate demand,” the ministry said in a statement.
China's leaders have identified the containment of financial risks and asset bubbles as a top priority this year. All the same, authorities are moving cautiously to avoid knocking economic growth, gingerly raising short-term interest rates while tightening regulatory supervision.
At the same time, Beijing's need to deliver on official growth targets is likely to make the economy increasingly reliant on stimulus, Moody's said.
“While ongoing progress on reforms is likely to transform the economy and financial system over time, it is not likely to prevent a further material rise in economy-wide debt, and the consequent increase in contingent liabilities for the government,” it said.
While the downgrade is likely to modestly increase the cost of borrowing for the Chinese government and its state-owned enterprises (SOEs), it remains comfortably within the investment grade rating range.
World stocks inched lower after the move, though Shanghai's main index .SSEC recouped early losses to end marginally higher. [MKTS/GLOB]
“After being very much at the front and center of global risk sentiment at the beginning of last year, the Chinese slowdown story has been almost forgotten, with politics throughout Europe and the U.S. taking the limelight,” said David Cheetham, chief market analyst at brokerage XTB.
The yuan currency CNH=D3 briefly dipped against the U.S. dollar in offshore trading, as did the Australian dollar AUD=, often seen as a proxy for China risk.
“It's going to be quite negative in terms of sentiment, particularly at a time when China is looking to de-risk the banking system (and) when there’s going to be some potential restructuring of SOEs,” said Vishnu Varathan, Asia head of economics and strategy at Mizuho Bank's Treasury division.
GROWTH TO SLOW
In March 2016, Moody's cut its outlook on China's ratings to negative from stable, citing rising debt and uncertainty about authorities' ability to carry out reforms.
Rival ratings agency Standard & Poor's downgraded its outlook to negative in the same month. S&P's AA- rating is one notch above both Moody's and Fitch Ratings, leading to speculation among analysts that S&P could also downgrade soon.
“We understand the risk and the reason for downgrade, but due to China being a unique system – (with a) closed capital account and strong government control over all important sectors – it can tolerate a higher debt level,” said Edmund Goh, a Kuala Lumpur-based investment manager at Aberdeen Asset Management.
The slowing economy has become an increasingly sensitive topic in China, with authorities directing mainland Chinese economists and journalists toward more positive messaging.
Authorities have stepped up efforts over the last several months to curb debt and housing risks, and a raft of recent data has signalled a cooling in the economy, which grew a solid 6.9 percent in the first quarter.
China's potential economic growth was likely to slow toward 5 percent in coming years, but the cooldown is likely to be gradual due to further doses of fiscal stimulus, Moody's said.
DEBT UNDER CONTROL?
The Finance Ministry said continued mid- to high-level economic growth “will provide fundamental support to fend off local government debt risks. China’s government debt risks will not change dramatically in 2018-2020 from 2016.”
The state planner, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), said debt risks are generally controllable as measures to lowecorporate leverage have achieved initial results, and systemic risks from debt are relatively low.
Government-led stimulus has been a major driver of China's growth over recent years, but has also been accompanied by runaway credit growth that has created a mountain of debt – now standing at nearly 300 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).
Julian Evans-Pritchard, China economist at Capital Economics in Singapore, said steps to resolve the debt overhang, such as debt-for-equity swaps at state companies, were insufficient to deal with problem.
“It’s reached the point where the bad debt problem is just so large the government will have to step in to resolve it at some point, and that obviously means at some point a sizeable increase in government debt,” he said.
Moody's said it expects the government's direct debt burden to rise gradually toward 40 percent of GDP by 2018 “and closer to 45 percent by the end of the decade”.
A growing number of economists believe that a massive bank bailout may be inevitable in China as bad loans mount. Last September, the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) warned that excessive credit growth in China signalled an increasing risk of a banking crisis within three years.
Moody's lowered Agricultural Bank of China's (601288.SS) long-term deposit and senior unsecured debt ratings to A2 from A1, on par with Bank of Communications' (601328.SS), which the agency put on review for possible downgrade.
Ratings for state-owned Bank of China (601988.SS), China Construction Bank (601939.SS) and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (601398.SS) were affirmed at A1, with Moody's citing their very high level of government support.
By John Ruwitch and Yawen Chen
(Additional reporting by Ryan Woo and Sue-lin Wong in BEIJING, Nichola Saminather in SINGAPORE, John Ruwitch and Andrew Galbraith in SHANGHAI and Umesh Desai in HONG KONG; Writing by Lincoln Feast; Editing by Shri Navaratnam, Kim Coghill and Ian Geoghegan)
(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com- – Wed, 24 May, 2017) London, Uk – –
The move to take on more over 50s comes amid a warning that the UK is facing a future jobs gap of 7.5 million unfilled roles.
Major companies including the Co-op Group, Walgreens Boots Alliance and Barclays have signed up to a pledge to hire 12% more older workers by 2022.
The firms will also publish age data of their employees as part of the initiative to secure an extra one million roles for older UK workers over the next five years.
The Government's Business Champion for Older Workers, Andy Briggs, has urged other businesses to get on board.
“The UK is facing a colossal skills gap, and older workers are vital to filling it,” said Mr Briggs, who is also the CEO of Aviva UK Life.
“Businesses can show leadership here, through committing to real change and actively seeking to recruit more over 50s into their organisations.
“By being open about the progress they are making, they can also lead the way in demonstrating the benefits of having a diverse team of employees that represents all sections of society.”
A total of eight companies have agreed to take part in the scheme, which requires them to publish the number and percentage of over-50s in their workforce as well as commit to hiring 12% more older workers by 2022.
Aviva, Atos, Barclays, The Co-operative Group, Home Instead Senior Care, the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), Mercer, and Walgreens Boots Alliance make up the first UK firms to sign up to take part.
The average age of the UK population is currently 40, but according to government data one third of the working age population of the country will be aged 50 and over. By 2030, half of all British adults will be over 50 years old.
UK charity Business in the Community, which will publish the age data released by participating companies on its website, said without more older workers the UK is facing a jobs gap of 7.5 million unfilled roles by 2022.
Rachael Saunders, Age at Work Director at Business in the Community, said: “The UK simply cannot meet its growth and productivity objectives without adapting to retain, recruit and develop people aged over 50.
“We have an ageing society and it is essential that employers act now to ensure employees can stay in work for longer and to support career changes in later life.”
By Clare Downey
(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Tue, 23 May, 2017) London, Uk – –
BP has started extracting oil from one of the largest new North Sea projects in recent years in a revival for the declining oil basin.
The development follows BP's $4.4bn (£3.4bn) upgrade to the Schiehallion field in the West of the Shetland islands. The area also holds BP’s major new gas field project at Clair Ridge.
Schiehallion has produced 400 million barrels of oil since it was first developed in 1998, but new drilling technology could now unlock a further 450 million barrels of oil and gas from the licence, known as Quad 4, which would extend the life of the fields for decades.
The West of Shetland basin is considered a strategically important region in keeping North Sea activity afloat. It has already attracted interest from majors BP, Shell and Total as well as rising upstart oil explorers Siccar Point Energy and Hurricane Energy.
BP chief executive Bob Dudley said the “important milestone” for the group marks a return to growth for its North Sea business.
The group is planning to double its UK North Sea production to 200,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day by the end of the decade and has promised to hold a material business in the region for several decades.
To revive its UK production, Mark Thomas, BP’s head of North Sea business, said the upgrade was one of the largest ever UK mid-life offshore redevelopments. It included building the world’s largest harsh water oil vessel, the Glen Lyon. The 100,00 tonne floating facility is capable of processing and exporting up to 130,000 barrels of oil a day and storing up to 800,000 barrels of oil.
“BP has developed a strong track record of finding, developing and operating big offshore oil resources west of Shetland – we have and will continue to use the latest technology to maximise recovery from the Schiehallion Area,” he said.
BP is one of the longest-standing ‘supermajors' operating in the North Sea after its oil discovery in the Forties oilfield in 1970 helped kickstart the UK’s oil boom years.
In the wake of the oil price crash almost three years ago BP has started exiting older areas of the aging basin to focus on fresh projects where profit margins are more substantial.
Over the next 18 months, BP said it plans to participate in up to five exploration wells in the Schiehallion area, in addition to drilling approximately 50 development wells over the next 3-4 years.
Deirdre Michie, the chief executive of industry group Oil and Gas UK, said the project endorses its belief that the North Sea still offers potential with the right investment.
“Our faith in the long term health of the basin is well founded,” she said. “It’s also extremely heartening to see one of the original explorers of the basin using new, ambitious approaches and pioneering technology to help lead a revival in production.”
By Jillian Ambrose
Ford CEO Mark Fields is out after less than three years. Executive Chairman Bill Ford tells CNN's Poppy Harlow why Ford must be more agile as technology changes rapidly.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Mon, 22 May, 2017) London, UK —
Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) (RBS.L) pursued last-minute settlement talks with a group of investors on Monday to avoid a potentially embarrassing trial over allegations the lender misled them about a 2008 capital increase.
A successful settlement would save former RBS Chief Executive Fred Goodwin from facing scrutiny in the courts over his decision-making and leadership at the time the lender almost collapsed.
RBS has doubled its offer to the remaining claimants as it seeks to settle the case, two people close to the matter told Reuters on Monday.
The civil trial brought by thousands of RBS investors was due to open at the High Court in London on Monday but was adjourned for a day to allow the settlement talks to continue.
The plaintiffs allege former executives gave a misleading picture of the bank's financial health ahead of a 12 billion pound ($15.5 billion) cash call in 2008. Months after the cash call, RBS had to be rescued by the government with a 45.8 billion pound bailout.
RBS, which remains more than 70 percent state-owned, denies any wrongdoing over the 2008 rights issue and says its former bosses did not act illegally.
Jonathan Nash, a lawyer representing the claimants, appealed in court for an adjournment saying the two parties were in settlement talks and wanted longer to strike a deal.
“We are involved in settlement discussions and we are hopeful of making progress,” Nash said.
The sources said RBS Chief Executive Ross McEwan was directly involved in talks over the weekend and that the bank had offered more than 80 pence for each RBS share held, though it was not clear if any investors have accepted the offer.
A settlement at that price would cost RBS “in the tens of millions of pounds”, a third source familiar with the matter said.
The bank has settled with 87 percent of the investors who originally brought the case but the others have so far rejected its offers and say they were determined to go to court.
By doubling the amount on offer, RBS is close to a sum the remaining investors would accept, one of the sources said, indicating that they might settle if RBS raises its offer to 100 pence per share.
That represents half of the 200 pence per share investors paid at the time of the rights issue.
The outstanding group represents about 9,000 retail shareholders and 20 institutional investors. The large investors include U.S. bank Wells Fargo (WFC.N), the Boeing (BA.N) pension fund, Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAC.N) and local British council pension funds.
RBS declined to comment on the settlement offer.
By Andrew MacAskill and Lawrence White
A monthly survey by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) found output in the past three months rose by the most in more than three year with factory orders expanding at a fast pace.
The mechanical engineering and chemicals sectors particularly powered ahead.
On Wednesday, Google announced several Google Photos updates and unveiled Google Lens, which lets your phone's camera interpret people, places, and things in the pictures you take.
From the unreal Yoro Park in Japan to the Bergpark Wilhelmshohe in Germany, here are Unbelievable Places That Really Exist.
Overbooking is not illegal, and most airlines overbook their scheduled flights to a certain extent in order to compensate for “no-shows.” Passengers are sometimes left behind or “bumped” as a result.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Fri, 19 May 2017) London, UK —
Visits to Britain by North Americans surged at the start of this year as tourists took advantage of the weakened pound, which may be forcing British holidaymakers to stay closer to home, official data showed on Friday.
Some 8.1 million people visited Britain in the first quarter of this year, up from 7.6 million in the same quarter a year ago – a 7 percent increase, the Office for National Statistics said.
“The (data) indicate that the sharply weakened pound is encouraging more visits to the UK from abroad and more spend by visitors,” Howard Archer, economist at IHS Global Insight, said.
“This is especially true of North America, which ties in with the pound's fall being most pronounced against the U.S. dollar.”
The pound tumbled against the U.S. dollar after the June 23 vote to leave the European Union, instantly making Britain a cheaper place to visit. As of the first quarter of 2017, it was still down around 17 percent against the American currency. GBP=D4
The number of North American tourists visiting Britain totaled 760,000 in the three months to March, up 17 percent compared with a year ago.
But on the flip-side of the pound's plunge, the number of Britons making the trip to North America fell 3 percent over the same period to 710,000.
There was a 2 percent increase in the number of British visitors to Europe, suggesting the pound's fall may be forcing British people to holiday closer to home and chiming with reports of a rise in “staycationing” in Britain.
Visitors to Britain from other European countries increased 4 percent compared with a year ago, rising to 6.2 million.
Domestic and foreign tourism accounts directly for about 4 percent of Britain's economy, according to official statistics, though the industry says the broader contribution is larger.
Britain's economy has outperformed most forecasters' expectations since the vote to leave the European Union, which sent the pound to a record low against a basket of currencies.
This has already produced a sharp rise in inflation, but there has also been evidence of a modest boost to exports and inbound tourism.
A survey of manufacturers on Friday showed export orders are growing at the joint-fastest pace since December 2013.
By Andy Bruce
(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Fri, 19 May, 2017) London, Uk – –
The competition watchdog has confirmed it will begin an in-depth investigation into Just Eat’s proposed £200m merger with Hungryhouse.
Just Eat was given the chance to address the concerns of the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) earlier this month, but has failed to do so, it said.
The CMA will now progress to a phase 2 investigation and has until November 2 to make a decision.
The investigation centres around concerns that restaurants could end up with a worse deal after the merger between the two online takeaway services.
“Following its initial investigation into the merger, the CMA has found that the companies are close competitors because of the similarity of their service and their broad geographical coverage,” the CMA said.
Some commentators had argued that they would not wield too much power over the market because competition had been bolstered by a series of new entrants such as Deliveroo and UberEATS.
But the CMA rejected the claim, saying these companies had a different operating model and therefore could not be considered direct rivals.
The escalation of the investigation comes as Just Eat continues to contend with internal upheaval in management.
Last month executive chairman John Hughes had to take a medical leave of absence just a month after chief executive David Buttress stood down because of “urgent family matters”.
It leaves interim chief executive Phil Harrison, previously chief financial officer, at the helm for the CMA investigation.
By Sam Dean
(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Thur, 18 May, 2017) London, Uk – –
Britain went on a spending spree in April. The shops were full of punters. Online retailers coined it in. Spring brought with it an end to the winter consumer spending blues.
That at least is what the official figures suggest. The Office for National Statistics reported that the volume of retail sales rose by 2.3% last month, smashing City expectations. This, though, is the same Office for National Statistics that said earlier this week that living standards were being squeezed because wages were failing to keep pace with prices. Something doesn’t quite add up.
One explanation is that the ONS has got its seasonal adjustment wrong. The late timing of Easter this year would be expected to lead to a rise in spending between March and April and the ONS tries to make an allowance for this. But it is not an exact science, which is why the monthly movements in retail sales often look quite dramatic. April’s big rise followed a 1.4% fall between February and March.
The weather also has an impact, particularly for certain sectors of retailing. April was a relatively warm month, which tends to increase footfall in the high street. Garden centres seem to have done especially well.
A less benign explanation is that consumers are either ignoring the squeeze on their real incomes or are oblivious to it. If so, expect to see an increase in consumer debt over the coming months.
This, though, does not square with what happened in the first few months of 2017, when consumers did seem to be tightening their belts after spending freely in the second half of 2016. Despite record levels of employment and ultra-low interest rates, there was a marked slowdown in retail activity.
All of which suggests that the April increase in retail sales should be treated with some caution. The ONS always suggests that looking at retail sales over the latest three months is a better guide to what’s happening than a single month’s data, and that advice is particularly apposite here.
Between the three months ending in January and the three months ending in April, retail sales volumes rose by 0.3%. That looks about right and fits with the general picture of an economy that is not about to plunge into recession but is not exactly firing on all cylinders either.
By Larry Elliott
The social network was found to have given misleading information by incorrectly saying it could not match up user accounts on the two platforms, according to regulators.
According to the Commission, in 2014 Facebook said it could not automatically match user accounts on the two platforms – but two years later launched a service doing exactly that.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Tue, 17 May, 2017) London, Uk – –
Employment hit a record high in March and joblessness fell to its lowest level since 1975 as Britain’s businesses kept on hiring more workers.
A total of 31.95m people are now in work – the highest level on record – which amounts to 74.8pc of 16 to 64-year olds, also an unprecedented high, according to data from the Office for National Statistics.
Unemployment fell to 4.6pc in the three months to April, the lowest level since 1975. That means there are currently 1.54m people out of work, the lowest number since 2005.
There are also more vacancies on offer than ever before with 777,000 jobs advertised from February to April, indicating companies want to hire more staff in the months ahead.
But pay increased at 2.4pc in the year to March, falling behind prices, which rose by 2.7pc in April.
Excluding bonuses the picture was even more downbeat, with regular weekly pay rising by only 2.1pc year-on-year.
The Bank of England hoped that pay would start rising once unemployment fell to around 4.5pc, but there are few signs of this happening yet – even though the apparently strong demand for workers and low unemployment rate would usually push employers to pay more.
“We continue to think that this tightening will deliver a modest rise in nominal wage growth over the course of this year,” said Paul Hollingsworth at Capital Economics. “It might not be enough to keep up with inflation, which we expect to peak at just over 3pc in the fourth quarter.
“However, as inflation begins to fall back next year as the upward pressures from the drop in the pound start to fade, we think real wages will begin to rise again. As a result, the forthcoming squeeze on real wage growth should be nowhere near as severe or prolonged as that seen after the financial crisis.”
It came as separate Bank of England data showed pay deals remained subdued “across the economy”.
The Bank's monthly agents’ report, which gathers the opinions of 700 businesses across the UK, said consumers were cutting back on spending amid a squeeze in their incomes due to higher inflation.
Some labour costs were rising, particularly in manufacturing, but the Bank data showed pay deals were barely keeping up with price growth.
“Pay awards remained clustered around 2pc and 2.5pc across the economy,” it said.
Around 40pc of pay deals are negotiated in April, the Bank has previously noted.
Official data on Tuesday showed inflation climbed to 2.7pc in the year to April – its highest since mid-2013. Many economists expect the rate to hit 3pc in the coming months.
While the fall in the value of the pound since the Brexit vote has pushed up inflation, there were further signs that it is boosting Britain's competitiveness.
“Consumer spending growth had moderated in real terms, as spending power had been hit by higher prices,” the Bank said.
“But manufacturing export growth had risen. That had mostly reflected the effects of the earlier decline in sterling.”
The Bank said manufacturing output had strengthened over the past month amid rising demand at home and abroad, driven by the automotive and aerospace sector.
The Bank's survey of 300 businesses showed most expected further export growth in the coming year – both in value and volume terms.
Goods exporters were particularly upbeat, with respondents citing the fall in the value of the pound and optimism about entry into new markets expected to push up export values, even as uncertainty over the UK's future relationship with the EU exerts a drag.
Respondents to the Bank ‘s survey said their availability to do business in new markets would be the “most important factor” affecting future export growth over the medium term.
There were also signs that companies are more willing to invest, which the Bank said was consistent with “modest growth in spending over the year ahead”.
Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said last week that many companies remained hesitant to plough cash into new projects while the UK's future relationship with the UK remained uncertain.
“We see some pick-up in investment and some positive contribution from net trade for most of the forecast, but it’s not booming,” he said.
The economy slowed down in the first quarter of the year even as employment rose strongly, so the amount of value produced per hour of work – a key measure of productivity – fell by 0.5pc. That is the first fall since late 2015, and reverses the 0.4pc rise in the measure in the final quarter of 2016.
Productivity growth is crucial to long-term improvements in wages and living standards, so the poor performance in the UK, and many developed economies, is a concern to analysts and policymakers.
Employment overall rose by 112,000 compared with the previous month, and by 381,000 on the year.
Most of the new workers – 91,000 on the month – found full-time jobs, while 21,000 gained part-time jobs.
Of the 8.5m part-time workers in the UK, only 12.4pc said they want a full-time job but have been unable to find one – the smallest proportion since 2009.
By Tim Wallace Szu Ping Chan