Unemployment Falls But Wage Growth Shrinks
A sharper than expected fall in the unemployment rate has been marred by figures showing that wages are not rising in line with the improving economy.
In figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the jobless total fell 161,000 to 2.16 million in the three months to April - giving the UK a jobless rate of 6.6%.
Employment growth of 345,000 in the period amounted to another new record while the number of people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance last month fell by 27,400 to 1.09 million.
But the wider figures also charted a decline in wage growth - with the annual figure including bonuses measured just 0.7% above the level seen in April 2013.
It marked, the ONS said, a 1% fall in April alone and was blamed on last year's figure being boosted by delayed bonus payments.
With annual pay growth running at just 0.7%, it means consumers are still far from escaping the squeeze from rising prices as CPI inflation runs at 1.8%.
The decline could be excused as an anomaly but it has also been suggested that firms are continuing to keep wage rises in check as a consequence of hiring more staff to recover growth lost during the financial crisis.
Samuel Tombs, of consultancy Capital Economics, said: "The latest UK labour market figures show that, while the unemployment rate is continuing to fall, there is still enough slack in the jobs market to prevent wage growth from picking up."
Employment minister Esther McVey said: "As we build a stronger economy, businesses up and down the country are feeling increasingly confident about creating jobs, meaning many thousands more people are in work every day - ensuring a better future for them, their families, and for the country as a whole."
But the figures showed it was self-employment driving the recovery in the jobs market.
The ONS said there were 337,000 people starting out on their own in the three months to April - leaving a self-employment total of 4.54 million.