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The hourly productivity of UK workers has grown at its fastest rate since 2011.

Output per hour increased by 0.9 per cent in the third quarter of 2017 compared with the previous quarter, when output per hour fell 0.1 per cent, figures published by the Office for National Statistics on Wednesday showed.

Lacklustre productivity has been a feature of the British economy since the 2008 financial crisis and has been blamed for sluggish wage growth and the government trouble in closing the fiscal deficit.

But the latest increase in output per hour was because of a 0.5 per cent fall in hours worked rather than an increase in the rate of economic growth. Output per worker grew at a slightly slower rate, increasing by 0.4 per cent during the third quarter.

The latest figures follow two quarters of declining hourly productivity and mean that productivity per hour is now slightly above its pre-crisis peak. They are based on the initial estimate of economic growth by the ONS, which contains less than half of the information necessary to produce a full estimate and is often revised.

The number of people employed fell by 14,000 during the three months to the end of September compared with the previous quarter, leading to a 0.1 percentage point fall in the employment rate.

However the unemployment rate was unchanged at 4.3 per cent, remaining at the lowest rate since 1975, as slightly more workers were reclassified as inactive during the period. This meant the number of unemployed workers also fell.

Real wages continued to shrink during the period. Average weekly earnings grew by 2.2 per cent, below the 2.8 per cent rate of inflation in the same period. The ONS calculates that real wages were 0.5 per cent lower excluding bonuses during the third quarter compared with the same period last year.

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