Britain's hot labour market showed more signs of cooling in official data published today, as companies turned more cautious about hiring and workers suffered a record fall in their basic wages when adjusted for soaring inflation.

The country's unemployment rate held at 3.8%, as expected by economists polled by Reuters, close to a half-century low.

But the number of people in employment grew by 160,000 in the April-June period, a lot less than expected in the Reuters poll which had pointed to an increase of 256,000.

The number of job vacancies fell for the first time since mid-2020, the Office for National Statistics said.

Wages, not including bonuses, rose by 4.7%, picking up pace from the three months to May but when adjusted for inflation they fell by 4.1%, the biggest drop since records began in 2001.

The Bank of England is watching the labour market closely for signs of long-term inflation pressure.

It raised borrowing costs by the most since 1995 earlier this month and said it remained ready to act forcefully if that pressure became more persistent.

Figures due to published on Wednesday are expected to show Britain's consumer price index rose by 9.8% in the 12 months to July, according to the economists polled by Reuters, and the BoE expects it to hit 13.3% in October, its highest since 1980.