Unemployment continues to fall – while average pay has outstripped consumer inflation for the first time in four years, according to latest official figures.
Data from the Office for National Statistics showed that pay, including bonuses, was 1.7% higher in the year to February compared with the latest Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation rate of 1.6%.
It is the first time since spring, 2010, that CPI inflation has not exceeded the increase in pay. Wages increased by an average of 2% in private firms and by 0.9% in the public sector.
Other figures showed continuing falls in unemployment and numbers claiming jobseeker’s allowance as well as a record 30.3m people in work.
UK unemployment fell by 77,000 in the three months to February to 2.24m, a jobless rate of 6.9%, the lowest for five years. However, the figure fro Yorkshire and Humber was 3,000 higher at 236,000 – a rate of 8.5%.
The claimant count fell by 30,400 in March to 1.14m, 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.
Among local parliamentary constituencies, Huddersfield’s claimant count for March was down by 178 on the previous month to stand at 2,990. The Colne Valley figure was 327 lower at 1,577 while the Dewsbury claimant count was down by 76 at 2,329.
The number of people classed as economically inactive, including those looking after a relative or those who have given up looking for work, fell by 86,000 in the latest quarter to 8.8m.
Self-employment increased by 146,000 to 4.5m, the highest since 1992 while the number of long-term jobless has been cut by 32,000 to 807,000, and the jobless figure for 16 to 24-year-olds has fallen by 38,000 to 881,000, the lowest for five years.
There are 1.42m 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.
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