UK workers are continuing to experience near stagnant wage rises, despite record numbers of people in work and low unemployment levels, the latest labour market survey from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveals.
ONS data published this week shows there were 32.39 million people in work between November 2017 to January 2018 and February to April 2018, 146,000 more than for November 2017 to January 2018 and 440,000 more than for a year earlier, with an overall employment rate of 75.6%.
According to the survey results, there were 1.42 million unemployed people in the last quarter, 38,000 fewer than for November 2017 to January 2018 and 115,000 fewer than for a year earlier. The official unemployment rate fell from 4.6% to 4.2%, in spite of concerns over Brexit and a struggling highstreet.
The number of people regarded as “economically inactive” ( those not working and not seeking or available to work) fell by 72,000, or 21.0% – the lowest since records began in 1971.
However, real-terms wages increased by just 0.4% excluding bonuses,and continue to lag behind inflation, which currently stands at around 2.4%.
Margaret Greenwood MP, Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, said: “Behind the headline figures on employment rates, people are being failed by this Conservative Government.
“A fall in unemployment is welcome, but people are still earning less than they did in 2010, and up to 10 million people are stuck in insecure work.
“With household borrowing rocketing and inflation eating into any limited pay growth, it is shameful that the Conservatives continue to sit on their hands while people are clearly struggling to get by.
“We need a serious Government, which invests in people, makes sure they are paid properly and protects their rights, instead of holding them back.”
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Wage growth is stuck in the slow lane. At this rate pay packets won’t recover to their pre-recession levels for years.
“We need to speed things up. Extending collective bargaining would boost living standards and help workers get a fairer share of the wealth they create.
“Ministers must allow unions the right to go into every workplace.”
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Esther McVey said: “The employment rate has never been higher – with over 3.3 million people moving into work since 2010.
“It’s a great British success story with businesses from Exeter to Edinburgh creating jobs – helping, on average 1,000 people find a job each and every day since 2010.
“And with the increase in the personal tax allowance, this government has ensured that people are keeping more of their money before they begin paying tax – meaning more take-home pay, that’s more money in your pocket for you and your family.”