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Wage growth has fallen - but employment has hit its highest since records began

Emma Haslett
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Office life: More people were in work than ever before, the ONS said (Source: Getty)

Wage growth edged down in the three months to the end of July, official figures today suggested - but there was a silver lining, as the number of people in employment hit its highest since records began in the early 1970s.

The figures, from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), showed average weekly earnings including bonuses increased 2.3 per cent from the three months to the end of April to the three months to the end of July.

Read more: Pensions are now almost as much as working wages

That growth was 0.2 per cent lower than in February to April, and 0.6 per cent lower than the same period the year before. No wonder the UK's real wage growth is akin to that of Greece...

But the figures suggested fears of a mass post-Brexit hiring freeze were somewhat overblown. Employment hit 74.5 per cent in the three months, with 31.77m people in work, 174,000 more than during the previous three months.

Unemployment, meanwhile, stuck at 4.9 per cent, down from 5.5 per cent a year earlier.

The ONS seemed happy enough.

“These figures show continued labour market improvement, with the employment rate remaining at a record high and inactivity at a new record low," said statistician Nick Palmer.

"The headline Labour Force Survey and earnings data are for May to July, so cover one month since the result of the EU referendum became known.”

Meanwhile, public sector employment dipped to 5.3m in the period, 20,000 lower than the year before, and the lowest level since the ONS began measuring the figure in 1999.

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