UK wages rising at highest rate in decades, but workers still struggling to stay afloat

The latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that regular pay increased by 5.7% in the year to September 2022, which was the fastest growth since 2000, excluding the pandemic years, when wages automatically went back up following furlough.

However, when rising prices were factored in, wages dropped by 2.7%. The UK unemployment rate also rose slightly to 3.6% in the three months to September, up from 3.5% in August, according to the ONS.

Jonathan Boys, labour market economist for the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, commented on the ONS figures: “With vacancies falling for the fourth consecutive quarter, the data suggests a softening in demand for labour. However, vacancies still remain near record high levels.

“The cost-of-living crisis is not affecting all workers equally. Private sector regular pay grew by 6.6% compared to 2.2% for the public sector. The growing wedge between the two will make recruitment and retention in the public sector increasingly difficult. Another concern is the falling value of pay packets despite large nominal pay rises. It is perhaps unsurprising then that in August there were 356,000 working days lost to labour disputes with a further 205,000 in September.”