According to the Office for National Statistics, unemployment fell yet again to 3.8 per cent in February, down from 3.9 per cent.
The UK employment rate was largely unchanged on the quarter at 75.5 per cent, but still sat below pre-Covid pandemic levels.
The ONS’ estimate of payrolled employees for March 2022 shows a small monthly increase of 35,000 to a record 29.6m.
With sectors from hospitality to farming facing a labour crunch, the number of job vacancies in January to March 2022 hit a new record of 1. 28m. However, a rate of growth in vacancies had slowed.
Inflation is at a three-decade high at 6.2 per cent, with Brits facing cost increases across energy, grocery and fuel purchases with campaigners warning of a crisis this spring.
Growth in regular pay excluding bonuses was four per cent in December 2021 to February 2022 while average total pay including bonuses grew 5.4 per cent.
In real terms, with inflation taken into account, regular pay fell on the year by one per cent – the second month in a row. Pay including bonuses grew by a meagre 0.4 per cent, when adjusted.
Myron Jobson, senior personal finance analyst at Interactive Investor, said: “While it is the best period in years for wage growth, many households will still feel like they’re not making any headway against higher prices for everything from gas and electricity to groceries.
“The harsh reality is inflation has erased gains in wages and then some, on average – which for many means that while their pay packet has gone up, they can buy less stuff with it.
“With the Bank of England predicting that inflation could hit double digits this year, workers could be trapped in a cycle of bumper wages only to see those gains nullified by rising prices.”