NEW figures show wages grew at the fastest rate for more than two decades between September and November – but are continuing to struggle to keep up with inflation during the cost of living crisis.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) data showed average pay, including and excluding bonuses, rose by 6.4% between in the three-month period compared with the same period in 2021.
However, when adjusted for rising prices, wages fell in real terms by 2.6%.
The gap between public and private sector pay is also near a record high, the figures reveal, as private sector wages grew 7.2% annually in the three months to November, more than double that of the 3.3% increase in the public sector.
The latest numbers also show how 467,000 working days were lost due to strikes in November last year.
Darren Morgan, director of economic statistics at the ONS, said despite the increase, the value of people’s pay was falling, when spiralling inflation was taken into account.
Earlier this month, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak pledged to halve inflation by the end of the year – a prediction widely anticipated to happen by economists as the cost of energy continues to fall from previous record highs.
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said: “We must not do anything that risks permanently embedding high prices into our economy.”
However Jonathan Ashworth, Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary, said the government was “totally bereft of ideas when it comes to tackling the cost of living crisis”.
Elsewhere in the figures, the employment rate in the UK has remained steady, with a slight increase in the unemployment rate.