The spending power of British workers increased to its highest level in two years in November following the biggest rise in real pay since September 2016.
Average weekly earnings, excluding bonuses, rose by 3.3% on the year, the biggest increase since 2008and well ahead of inflation, which fell to 2.3% in November.
With bonuses taking average pay to 3.4%, the average worker saw their pay increase by 1.1% in real terms.
Business groups welcomed the improvement in real wages after declines in 2017 and the early months of 2018. But the TUC said the rise would do little to help workers still feeling the effects over the last decade “of the longest pay squeeze in 200 years”.
The Office for National Statistics said the number of people in employment continued to rise following an increase of 141,000 to a record high of 32.54 million in the three months to November.
And the employment rate, which measures the proportion of working age people with a job, hit 75.8%, up from 75.3% a year earlier – the highest since comparable estimates began in 1971.
Britain’s booming jobs market was also reflected in record job vacancies and a shift of 100,000 people over the three months to November into the jobs market who were previously economically inactive.
This pushed the unemployment rate back down to 4%, its lowest level since 1975.
However, John Philpott, the director of the Jobs Economist consultancy, that self-employment accounted for two-thirds (93,000) of the latest rise in employment while job vacancies have remained broadly unchanged in recent months.
“This suggests an element of caution on the part of some employers in the face of prolonged Brexit uncertainty who may for the time being prefer to hire self-employed contractors rather than employees.”