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UK unemployment total up by 15,000



The UK unemployment total has risen for the first time in two years, according to the Office for National Statistics.
The ONS said 1.85 million people were unemployed in the March-to-May period, an increase of 15,000 from the previous quarter.
The ONS also showed that the pace of pay rises continued to pick up.
Average weekly earnings including bonuses rose at an annual pace of 3.2% in the latest three-month period, the fastest rate in five years.
Pay excluding bonuses rose by 2.8%, which was the highest pace since February 2009.
The ONS figures showed there were 30.98 million people in work in the March-to-May quarter. That was down 67,000 from the previous three-month period and the first quarterly fall since April 2013.
"It's possible that the rate of improvement in the labour market that we have seen over the last three years may have eased off, though it is too early to be certain," said ONS statistician Nick Palmer.
In all, 272,000 more people were working full-time during the quarter, while 7,000 fewer people were working part-time.
Despite the rise in the jobless rate, the UK's Work and Pensions Minister, Priti Patel, said there were jobs out there.
"When you look at the strength of the UK labour market - through the reforms we brought in in the last parliament and now as well we're continuing to implement - we are seeing a lot of growth in the economy, and at the same time, wages are increasing, but vacancies are still at over 700,000, so there are jobs out there in the labour market and vacancies are there," Ms Patel told the BBC.
Experts say that the rise in the jobless rate could give officials greater impetus to raise interest rates later this year.
"If the data continue to strengthen in coming months in line with the surveys, a November rate hike remains very much in the picture," Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit said.