< html > The Associated Press
Bolivar Commercial
 LATEST NEWS
 Top Stories
 U.S.
  Severe Weather
  Bird Flu
 World
  Castro
  Mideast Crisis
  Iraq
 Business
 Personal Finance
 Technology
 Sports
  Sports Columns
  NASCAR
  Baseball
  College Hoops
  NBA
  NHL
  Tennis
  Golf
 Entertainment
 Health
 Science
 Politics
 Washington
 Offbeat
 Podcasts
 Blogs
 Weather
 Raw News
 NEWS SEARCH
 
 Archive Search
 SPECIAL SECTIONS
 Multimedia Gallery
 AP Video Network
 Today
 in History
 Corrections
Apr 16, 6:22 AM EDT

UK unemployment keeps falling amid recovery

World Video

Photo Gallery
Animal census at the London Zoo
Latest News from Britain
Cornish people recognized as official UK minority

UK police seek to halt Brits joining Syria rebels

Snowden installed as University of Glasgow rector

Spacious new Heathrow Terminal 2 set for opening

Blair: Radicalized Islam a growing threat

British anti-EU party focuses on immigrant threat

Buy AP Photo Reprints
Multimedia
A district summary of the Beige Book
Measuring economic stress by county nationwide
Mall malaise: shoppers browse, but don't buy
Unemployment by the numbers
Family struggles with father's unemployment
Saying an affordable goodbye
Hard times hit small car dealer
Latest Economic News
Mixed earnings leave US stocks without direction

Puerto Rico govt seeks to lure wealthy investors

Mixed earnings news leaves stocks little changed

Draghi wants to publish ECB minutes

How the Dow Jones industrial average did Wednesday

Skechers and KB Home are big market movers

A stock rally falters as US earnings disappoint

France raises deficit forecasts amid low growth

Job market for college grads better but still weak

German tax income jumps in 1st quarter

Interactives
Greece's Debt Threatens to Spread
State budget
gaps map
Auto industry problems trickle down, punish Tennessee county
Women give old Derby hats a makeover in tough economy
S.C. town deals with highest unemployment in South
How mortgages were bundled and sold as securities
Tracking the $700 billion financial bailout
Tracking the year's job losses
State-by-state foreclosures since 2007
Credit crisis explained
Presidents and their economic legacies
Lexicon of the financial crisis
Americans' addiction to debt

LONDON (AP) -- Britain's unemployment rate has fallen below 7 percent for the first time in five years, with earnings growth narrowly outstripping inflation for the first time since 2010.

The Office for National Statistics said Wednesday that 2.24 million people were unemployed in the three months to February, a rate of 6.9 percent. That compares with 7.2 percent in the previous quarter.

Average earnings grew by 1.7 percent in the year to February, exceeding the rate of inflation, which was 1.6 percent at last count, in March. Stripping out bonuses, however, earnings growth was a more modest 1.4 percent.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said the figures were evidence Britain's economic recovery was becoming "embedded."

The drop in unemployment may increase pressure on the Bank of England to consider raising its benchmark interest rate from a record-low 0.5 percent.

Until earlier this year the bank had said its key interest rate would remain on hold until joblessness fell to 7 percent. After the unemployment rate fell faster than expected, bank governor Mark Carney broadened the forward guidance policy to include other economic indicators such as wage growth and productivity.

David Kern, chief economist at the British Chambers of Commerce, said that the economic figures were encouraging, but youth unemployment remained "much too high" at 19.1 percent, and there were more than 800,000 people who have been unemployed for more than a year.

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.