Britain passes 'living standards landmark' as marathon pay squeeze ends
The marathon UK pay squeeze has finally come to an end after official figures showed wages growing slightly faster than inflation.
Earnings rose by 0.2% in real terms in the three months to February, the Office for National Statistics revealed today.
The news is a major boost for the Conservatives, after wages decreased in value compared to rising prices over almost a year.
Meanwhile the proportion of people in work hit its highest level since records began in 1971, and unemployment dropped to its lowest level since 1975.
Left-leaning think tank the Resolution Foundation said the UK had passed a “living standards landmark”.
Senior Economic Analyst Stephen Clarke said: “It’s good to see pay finally back in positive territory, but Britain has a lot of ground to make up after an awful decade of pay squeezes, stagnation and all too fleeting recoveries.
“On average, people are still taking home less than they did before the crisis.”
There were some 32 million people in work between December 2017 and February 2018, up 55,000 on the previous three month period and up 427,000 on the year before.
The proportion of those in work hit 75.4%, while there were 16,000 fewer people unemployed compared with the three months to November 2017.
Top ONS statistician Matt Hughes said: "The labour market continues to be strong, and for the first time in almost a year, earnings have grown slightly after inflation has been taken into account.
“Employment rose again in the three months to February, to reach its highest ever rate since records began. The unemployment rate fell, too, and is at its lowest since 1975.”
But unions said workers were still £14 a week worse off than before the economic crash hit in 2007 and noted that pay packets were not expected to return to pre-crisis levels until 2025.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady urged the Government to "get the economy working again for working people".
She added: “Ministers need to increase the minimum wage to £10 an hour, fund a proper pay rise for all public servants, and give workers stronger rights to negotiate fair pay deals.”