In an unexpected rise, UK's rate of unemployment has risen from 4.3 per cent to 4.4 per cent for the three months to the end of December 2017.
British government bond prices rose and sterling briefly fell against the USA dollar after Wednesday's figures showed the sharpest rise in the number of people out of work in nearly five years.
Employment growth was weaker than expected in the three months to December, rising by 88,000 people rather than the 173,000 Reuters poll consensus. "This change is within the LFS error margin". The unemployment rate has fallen by such a degree in recent years that some commentators have described the situation as Britain's "jobs miracle". The number of people claiming unemployment benefits decreased by 7,200 in January.
That's up from the previous month's equivalent rate of 2.3 percent.
Workers' total earnings, including bonuses, rose by an annual 2.5 percent in the three months to December, as expected and unchanged from the three months to November.
The number of people in work fell for the first time since August 2016.
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In the same period of previous year, the rate was 4.8 percent.
Still, wage increases are lagging price rises, meaning household incomes remain stretched as the country enters a crucial stage in Brexit discussions.
Average weekly earnings excluding bonuses increased by 2.5 per cent compared to a year earlier, the ONS said.
Despite the headline rise in unemployment, the figures will likely give support to the Bank of England's desire to raise interest rates in May, given the signs of inflationary pressure amid a still strong labour market. In particular, fewer citizens of the eastern European countries that joined the EU in 2004 and of non-EU countries were in work than in the year before. With only two months left in the 2017/18 financial year, cumulative borrowing now stands at 37.7 billion pounds, down 16 percent on the same point a year ago.
"This is the sharpest increase in the unemployment level the ONS has seen in nearly five years", said Matt Hughes, a senior statistician from the ONS.
Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit, said the labour market update contained "mixed messages" for Bank of England rate-setters.