The Office of National Statistics provided an update on wages and employment today, offering both positives and negatives. The good news is employment is up, the bad news is that wages are worth less.
The UK’s unemployment rate has remained at 4.7%, with the employment rate of 74.6% being the joint highest rate since records began in 1971.
Unemployment has fallen by 45,000 to 1.56 million in the three months to February. There are now 31.8 million people in work, which is up by 39,000 on the latest quarter.
However, the Office of National Statistics figures also show that inflation has wiped out growth in wages.
“Adjusted for inflation, average weekly earnings grew by 0.2% including bonuses and by 0.1% excluding bonuses, over the year, the slowest rate of growth since 2014,” the ONS statement declared.
This follows yesterday’s announcement that the UK inflation rate remained at 2.3% in March, which is over the Bank of England’s 2% target. The current inflation rate is at its highest level since September 2013. Back in January, it was at 1.8%.
Part of the increasing inflation is down to food prices. They are coming in 1.2% higher than last year, marking the biggest rise in the last three years. However, lower fuel and flight costs helped to offset the rises in food and alcohol prices.
The high street has taken a hit, with non-food retail sales falling by 0.8% compared to a year ago. Figures from the British Retail Consortium demonstrates that people are instead focusing on essential items, which suggests that rising prices are starting to impact shopping habits.