UK wages have risen by 2.9 per cent over the past year
The Office for National Statistics confirmed that weekly earnings, excluding bonuses, increased by 0.4 per cent above the Consumer Price Index measure of inflation over the past 12 months.
A total of 32,340,000 people were employed in the three months to the end of March, up by 396,000 on a year earlier.
It means that 75.6 per cent of the workforce now have jobs, the highest since records began in 1971.
Chancellor Philip Hammond said: “Growth in real wages means that people are starting to feel the benefit of more money in their pockets.
“Now the focus has to be on ensuring that wages keep rising faster than inflation, so living standards increase.”
Yesterday’s figures also showed that Britain’s unemployment rate has fallen to 4.2 per cent, the lowest level since 1975.
A total of 1.42 million people were jobless but seeking work, 46,000 fewer than for October to December 2017, and 116,000 fewer than a year earlier.
But the UK economy’s productivity fell by 0.5 per cent during the first three months in this year, raising concerns that the jobs boom is failing to create a significant increase in output.
There was also a slight fall of 28,000 in the number of EU nationals working in the UK in the past year, down to 2.29 million.
But campaigners for lower net migration to the UK warned that this did not signal a mass exit of European migrants after the Brexit vote.
Lord Green of Deddington, chairman of Migration Watch UK, said: “These new labour force figures dispose of any claim of a Brexodus.
“Workers born in the EU, at 2.37million, are 155,000 higher than in the same quarter before the referendum.”
Comment by Sheila Lawlor
BRITAIN can face the future with confidence.
It has the brains, talent and ambition to outperform its neighbours.
Our science, research and digital industries lead the field.
The best-trained labour force is built by developing skills with their knowledge base.
UK science, research and digital industries lead the field
That is the proven way to a high-productivity, high-value, high-skill economy.
So how can the UK match our competitors with the higher productivity that grows the economy?
One general trend stands out.
Other G7 countries have a higher proportion of high-value, high-skill jobs in their labour market.
By contrast the UK has the largest proportion of low-skilled workers in the OECD (except Spain).
Germany combines education and training to the envy of the world.
France helps the best and brightest to win places in elite training academies for technology, engineering, finance and other professions.
By contrast, the UK’s education system has been the victim of a “class war”.
As the numbers of technical and grammar schools dwindled to the detriment of a high-skill, high-value labour force, the labour market lagged behind Germany and France.
Though many industries did well, they did so despite the system, not because of it