The Government argues that the unemployment falls over the past year stem, in large part, from its policies to promote the labour market flexibility which it advocated at this week's Detroit 'jobs summit'. However, economists warned that recent falls in the total overstated the number of jobs created.
Separate figures showing a fall of 0.5 per cent in high street spending volume last month fuelled fears that the economy is slowing ahead of next month's tax increases.
But the Chancellor's scope to combat that with an interest rate cut was constrained by a rise in earnings growth.
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