UK: Pay rises outstrip 1.6% CPI inflation for first time in four years
- Credit: PA
The number of unemployed across the East of England fell by 7,000 between December and February, official figures show.
The total jobless figure for the region now stands at 171,000, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) says, while the unemployment rate for the region stands at 5.4%, compared to 9.3% in the North East, 7.8% in London and 5.1% in the South East.
Across the UK, unemployment fell by 77,000 in the three months to February to 2.24 million, a jobless rate of 6.9%, the lowest for five years.
Meanwhile, average pay rises have outstripped CPI inflation for the first time in four years, the ONS said.
Pay, including bonuses, was 1.7% higher in the year to February, compared to the latest CPI inflation rate of 1.6%.
It is the first time since the spring of 2010 that CPI inflation has not exceeded the increase in pay.
Pay increased by an average of 2% in private firms and by 0.9% in the public sector.
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The news comes as millions of health and local government workers gear up for possible strikes in protest at pay increases of 1%.
Other figures also showed continuing falls in unemployment and numbers claiming jobseeker’s allowance as well as a record 30.3 million people in work.
The claimant count fell by 30,400 in March to 1.14 million, the 17th consecutive monthly reduction. Employment has increased by 691,000 over the past year, giving a rate of 72.6%, the best for six years.
The number of people classed as economically inactive, including those looking after a relative or who have given up looking for work, fell by 86,000 in the latest quarter to 8.8 million.
Self-employment increased by 146,000 to 4.5 million, the highest since records began in 1992. Long-term and youth unemployment have both fallen.
The number out of work for more than a year has been cut by 32,000 to 807,000, while the jobless figure for 16 to 24-year-olds has fallen by 38,000 to 881,000, the lowest for five years.
There are 1.42 million people working part-time because they cannot find full-time work, a fall of 17,000 over the quarter, but 10,000 higher than a year ago.
Average total pay is £479 a week, or £449 excluding bonuses.
Minister for Employment Esther McVey said: “More young people are in work, more women are in work, wages are going up, and more and more businesses are hiring - and it’s a credit to them that Britain is working again.
“But there is still more to do - which is why I’d go even further and call on more employers to work with us to tap into the talent pool the UK offers.”
GMB general secretary Paul Kenny said: “The recovery under way is welcome but we have a very long way to go to climb out of the hole caused by the recession.
“Given the increase in population, GDP per head is still 5.8% below 2007 levels.This is the root cause of average earnings being down 13.8% in real terms since then. The pay of the bottom 50% of the workforce is still being squeezed.”