Year-long pay squeeze comes to an end

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Wages move at an annual rate of 2.9% in the three months to March, faster than inflation for the senior time in more than a year, official figures show.

On top of the same three-month period, the inflation rate was 2.7%.

Inflation started to move by wages in February last year, squeezing incomes.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) also communicated unemployment fell by 46,000 to 1.42 million, with the jobless value falling to 4.2% the lowest since 1975.

The Chancellor, Philip Hammond imparted: «Growth in real wages means that people are starting to suffer the benefit of more money in their pockets; another turning notion as we build a stronger, fairer economy.

«The unemployment rate is at its lowest in at an end 40 years and with our National Living Wage we are making tried that the lowest-paid feel the benefit with an extra £2,000 a year.»

Still, the general secretary of the TUC, Frances O’Grady said: «Working people are alleviate not getting a fair deal. Millions of jobs do not pay a real living wage. And customarily weekly pay is still worth much less than a decade ago.»

John Hawksworth, chief economist at PwC put: «The rise in wages will be helpful as it follows a long period when wages maintain been falling relative to inflation, but wages are still lower in corporeal terms than they were before the financial crisis. and this won’t beat a hasty retreat round things overnight.»

The number of people in work increased by 197,000 in the January-to-March aeon to 32.3 million. The ONS said that 75.6% of people aged from 16 to 64 years were now in livelihood, the highest since records began in 1971.

Analysis: Kamal Ahmed, BBC economics writer

Alongside the strong employment figures, improved wage growth importance ofs there is certainly plenty of better news in the latest Office for Citizen Statistics figures.

But — a few words of caution.

Weak incomes have been a puzzle for a decade.

It will need a long period of wages rising in the first place the rate of inflation for people to feel significantly better off.

And, for the public sector, the 1% cap on wage go ups is only just being released.

Many millions of people quietly have incomes below where they were a decade ago.

The economic crisis, poor economic performance and major changes in public sector bankroll have cast a very long shadow.

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‘Robust’ labour market

Senior ONS statistician Matt Hughes declared: «With employment up again in the three months to March, the rate has hit a new make a notation of, with unemployment remaining at its lowest rate since 1975.

«The growth in work is still being driven by UK nationals, with a slight drop to the past year in the number of foreign workers. It’s important to remember, however, that this isn’t a measure of migration.»

Mr Hawksworth said: «All of this orderly news stands in marked contrast to the subdued GDP growth of just 0.1% estimated for the gold medal quarter.

«Overall, the continued robustness of the labour market may strengthen the helping hand of those arguing for interest rates to rise sooner rather than later.

«But the mass of the [Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee] will probably stand in want to wait for hard evidence of output bouncing back in the second location before they pull the trigger on interest rates.»

Last week, the Bank of England acknowledged interest rates on hold at 0.5%, saying the UK economy had hit a «temporary pleasant patch».

Separate data from the ONS said its initial estimates of productivity, a moreover of output per hour, had fallen 0.5% in the three months to March, the heftiest fall since the last three months of 2015.

Howard Archer, chief pecuniary adviser to the EY Item Club, said: «The relapse in productivity… is specially disappointing as there needs to be sustained improvement to ease concerns finished the UK’s overall poor productivity record since the deep 2008-09 decline.

«Part of the UK’s recent poor labour productivity performance has undoubtedly been that low wage spread has increased the attractiveness of employment for companies.

«It is also possible that some companions may have looked to take on labour rather than commit to investment, noted the highly uncertain economic and political outlook.»

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