Pay packets are growing at their slowest rate on record, forcing thousands more stay-at-home mums to look for work and adding to Britain’s dole queues, official figures revealed today.
Wages grew at an annual pace of just 1 per cent in the three months to February — barely a third of the 2.8% official rate of inflation and the lowest since the Office for National Statistics began collecting the figures in 2011.
Unemployment also jumped 70,000 over the quarter to 2.56 million, the highest since the May-to-July quarter last year. The ONS said a key factor behind the rise was a 57,000 fall in the number of “economically inactive” people — mainly women — now seeking work but unable to find a job.
The number of women economically inactive because they had chosen to look after the family or home fell by 45,000 over the quarter to another record low of 2.06 million.
ING Bank economist Rob Carnell said: “One of the obvious implications of this is that women who previously felt that they did not have to work now feel that they have to go out and earn some money, particularly with the squeeze in wages.”
Unemployment in London was up 30,000 as the Olympic factor finally faded from the jobs market, accounting for nearly half the overall rise in the jobless count.
The latest poor news comes a day after the IMF slashed its growth forecasts for the UK to just 0.7 per cent this year and urged Chancellor George Osborne, pictured, to consider slowing the pace of his deficit-cutting efforts. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Our jobs market is a long way off a strong recovery, and is being made worse by economic policies which are failing to deliver sustained employment growth and rising real wages.”
Bank of England Governor Sir Mervyn King and two colleagues on the monetary policy committee again called for an extra £25 billion in money-printing to boost growth, but were blocked by a majority worried over the impact on the pound.