• Transcript

    British employers ramped up hiring to its fastest pace since 2015 in the three months to January, defying broader weakness in the UK economy. But, as Francis Maguire reports, Germany's growth outlook remains subdued.
    British employers defied Brexit uncertainty in the three months leading up to January,

    Hiring at the fastest pace in more than three years.

    Government figures showed the number of people in work surged by 222,000

    Which pushed down the unemployment rate to 3.9 percent - its lowest since the start of 1975.

    But Britain's Finance Minister has warned that could all be under threat if Britain leaves the EU without a deal.

    (SOUNDBITE) (English) BRITISH FINANCE MINISTER, PHILIP HAMMOND, SAYING (SOUNDBITE BEGINS AND CONTINUES OVER SHOT OF HAMMOND SPEAKING FROM ANOTHER ANGLE):

    "The progress we have made will be at risk if we cannot secure a smooth and orderly exit from the EU and a transition to a new partnership that protects the complex trading relationships businesses have built up over 45 years and on which so many British jobs depend.

    With Britain's exit from the EU - due on March 29th - still unclear,

    Many businesses have cut long-term investment in equipment.

    Making them more likely to hire workers who can be fired if the economy struggles.

    Wages also rose, going up 3.4 percent in the three months to January.

    The figures give some relief to the government,

    Just a week after it lowered the UK's growth forecast for 2019 - largely due to Brexit.

    Germany appears ready to follow suit.

    Finance ministry sources say its 2020 budget plans assume Europe's largest economy will grow by 1 percent this year,

    Down from the 1.8 percent projected earlier.

    The German outlook hit by trade conflicts and sluggish demand for industrial products.