UK workers receive biggest wage rise in a decade

Between August and October 2018, wages were recorded as growing at their fastest rate in a decade, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics. The statistical bulletin – UK labour market: December 2018 – noted that average weekly earnings for UK employees, including bonuses, increased by 3.3% compared with the previous year.

Key statistics

The latest bulletin provides estimates of employment, unemployment, economic inactivity and other employment-related statistics throughout the UK:

Employment Rate

  • An estimated 32.48 million people were in work between August and October 2018; an increase of 79,000 from May-July 2018 statistics, and 396,000 more than the same period in 2017. The employment rate (the proportion of people working aged between 16 and 64 years of age) was 75.7%; the joint-highest estimate since 1971.
  • Employed men aged 16-64 was 80.3%; the highest rate for men since 1991.
  • In Aug-Oct 2018, employed women were close to a record high with 71.2% of women aged 16-64 in work. This is partly due to the ongoing changes to the State Pension age for women resulting in fewer women able to retire between the ages of 60 and 65 years old.

Average Weekly Earnings

  • The average weekly wages are measured as money paid per week, per job to UK employees before tax and other deductions. In nominal terms (not adjusted for price inflation), the average weekly salary was £495 – up from £479 per week in 2017 and the highest since 2011.
  • When wages are adjusted for price inflation, the weekly salary sits at £464 per week; up £459 per week for a year earlier, but £9 lower than the pre-downturn peak of £473 per week for March 2008.

Employment Vacancies

  • Job vacancies were up by 10,000 on the quarter to a record high of 848,000. More than half of the jobs created (195,000 of 329,000) went to people who are no longer economically inactive, who are the main reason for the expansion in the workforce.

Unemployment in the UK

  • 38 million people were estimated to be unemployed (people not in work but seeking and available to work); this is a rise of 20,000 from May to July 2018, yet 49,000 less than the same period in 2017.
  • Unemployed men increased by 27,900, while the number of unemployed women fell by 8,000.

Both employment and unemployment have increased as a result of the UK’s growing population and more people joining the labour force, such as students and older people.

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