Public sector workers in the UK saw their total earnings rise by an estimated 0.9% in 2016 – the lowest year-on-year increase so far this century.
It followed average rises of 1.9% in 2013, 1.0% in 2014 and 1.9% in 2015, according to the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings published by the Office for National Statistics.
The figures reflect the way the Government has sought to limit since 2010 the level of public sector pay increases.
Salaries were frozen for all but the lowest paid workers in 2011-12 and 2012-13.
A pay cap based on an average annual increase of 1% was then introduced in 2013-14.
This is currently intended to remain in place each year up to and including 2019-20.
The 1% pay cap is in stark contrast with the previous decade.
Between 2000 and 2009, public sector employees typically enjoyed much higher average rises in their total annual earnings, ranging between 2.6% in 2006 and 4.5% in 2004.
Increases in public sector pay could often exceed those seen in the private sector – for example in 2009, when public sector annual earnings rose by 3.8%, compared with 1.9% in the private sector.
But according to the provisional figures for 2016, this pattern has now been reversed.
While the public sector recorded an average increase of just 0.9% last year, private sector employees saw their total earnings jump by an average of 2.8%.
All the figures used in the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings are based on median gross annual earnings, which is the value below which precisely half of all jobs fall.