The pace of job losses more than slowed in July after six months of faster job losses and many found a new career. (Reuters)

Britain’s jobless rate unexpectedly eased in July, the earliest the Office for National Statistics has published July data, while analysts expect it to rise to its highest since the start of the financial crisis. The rate in the year to July slowed to 5.3 percent from 5.4 percent a month earlier, while the workforce increased by almost 22,000 – a third fewer than expected. But many economists think the rate will rise to around 6 percent as many jobseekers turn to others as potential employers continue to struggle with the uncertain economic outlook.

“Unemployment has fallen over the last few months and many jobseekers are starting to look for new positions,” said Olly Kerr, UK economist at Capital Economics. “However, the UK labour market is still highly fragile and that will come into the forefront when we come to our next forecast in late October.”

The rate in the year to July slowed to 4.9 percent from 4.9 percent a month earlier, while the workforce increased by almost 22,000 – a third fewer than expected.

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Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the rate to edge up to 5.3 percent. The number of unemployed fell by 21,000 in July, to 2.4 million, the lowest since November 2011.

“The important news here is the slowdown,” said said Philip Shaw, senior economist at Investec. “Our view is that, while it was disappointing, it has been a steady deterioration over the last few months.”

Job losses slowed in July to 6,100, from 10,100 in June, after six months of faster job losses. All sector staff shed in July were made up of non-management jobs and long-term care workers. The latest data was based on an upwardly revised figure from June and suggests the ongoing squeeze on wages is lagging, although it suggests that businesses are reducing headcount in a bid to offset lower earnings.

However, job losses in two weeks ago had already wiped as much as £6.2 billion from Britain’s gross domestic product (GDP) at the start of the month, against the second-quarter estimate of 1.7 percent and up from June’s 1.6 percent.