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Real wages continue to fall as unemployment rises, warn unions

There are fears that the labour market could be ‘running out of steam’.

The latest figures on pay show a continued cost of living “crisis”, unions warn amid a surprise increase in unemployment.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The great pay squeeze continues. This is the 10th month in a row that real wages have fallen.

“Britain’s cost of living crisis is pushing families to the brink, but the Government is failing to act.

“Ministers must give public sector workers the pay rise they have earned and invest in jobs working people can live on. In-work poverty is soaring on their watch.”

Employment Minister Alok Sharma said:  “High employment rates are a reliable feature of today’s economy – and this is an incredible achievement.

“Today’s figures show that this Government is building a fairer economy that supports people from all backgrounds.”

Debbie Abrahams, shadow work and pensions secretary, said: “The rise in unemployment is further evidence of the Tories’ economic failure, which has resulted in regional inequalities, wages failing to keep up with prices and millions of workers trapped in low paid, insecure work.

“Eight million people in working households live in poverty and the number of children in poverty is set to soar to a record 5.2 million over the next five years.”

Seamus Nevin of the Institute of Directors, said: “Access to staff may be peaking as the labour market begins to tighten.

“Employers are now finding it increasingly difficult to recruit the workers they need. Given access to skills is currently one of the highest concerns for IoD members, today’s employment figures highlight the imperative for Government to get our skills system right.”

Matthew Percival of the CBI said: “Rising unemployment is disappointing, but job vacancies reaching another record shows that businesses are creating opportunities.

“This underlines why skills, including retraining, need to be at the heart of our industrial strategy so that everyone can benefit from the opportunities created by economic growth.

“Meanwhile, slowing productivity growth and rising pay growth makes an interest rate increase more likely.”

Stephen Clarke of the Resolution Foundation, said: “It’s early days, but the evidence points to a plateauing in employment growth and pay pressure building. Hopefully, this means Britain is finally in line for a pay rise after nearly a year of stagnant wages.

“A tighter labour market also means less insecure work but we’re far from out of the woods. Overall levels of insecure work are still too high.”

Ian Brinkley of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development said: “The substantial and unexpected rise in unemployment is a clear warning that the UK labour market may be running out of steam, but there are reasons to believe that this is a one-off, as opposed to the beginning of a larger employment crisis. “

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