Regular pay growth was just one per cent from December to February on the same period last year, the lowest since records began in 2001. Average earnings grew at a sluggish 0.8 per cent over the same period. As inflation stays stubbornly above target, this will squeeze consumers further.
Unemployment also rose by 70,000 to 7.9 per cent from 7.8 per cent, despite a consensus that the rate would remain flat. The total unemployed now stands at 2.56m.