In Brief

Average wages above their pre-financial crisis level

Resolution Foundation says weekly wages would have been £141 higher without crash

Average weekly wages in the UK have reached their highest levels since before the economic crisis.

Weekly pay reached £512 in the three months to December. Adjusting for inflation, this is the highest since March 2008.

The Guardian describes it as a “significant moment after a lost decade for British workers” but pundits and organisations have been quick to put the news in perspective.

Frances O’Grady, the general secretary of the TUC, said: “Today’s wages figures are nothing to celebrate after a decade of terrible wage growth.”

The Resolution Foundation welcomed the news but calculated that wages would have been about £141 per week higher if the pre-crisis trend for wage growth had continued.

“The fact that is has taken 12 years to get to this point shows what a living standards disaster our pay packets have been,” said a spokesperson.

John Philpott, the director of the Jobs Economist consultancy, said: “Employees can be said only to have limped back to their pre-crisis pay level.”

“There's always a half-full or a half-empty angle on wage increases,” said the BBC’s economics correspondent, Andy Verity.

He dug into the maths of the news, explaining: “The average wage excluding bonuses is now £511.61. In March 2008, the average wage would have bought you £510.96 (in 2019 prices). In other words you are 65p better off than you were - 12 years ago.”

City AM says the annual rate of wage growth has slowed in recent months from a peak growth rate of 3.9% between May and July 2019. It dropped to 3.2% between August and October, and now the rate is less than half that.

Nevertheless, analyst Chris Beauchamp welcomed the wages milestone, saying it “will be heralded as a new dawn for the British workforce”.

Combined with healthy job figures the news boosted the pound after it had slipped below $1.30 in early trading after the UK’s warning to the European Union in trade deal talks. Sterling then rose 0.28% to stand at $1.3039.

–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––For a round-up of the most important business stories and tips for the week’s best shares - try The Week magazine. Start your trial subscription today –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

Recommended

How the 2011 London riots unfolded
London riots
Why we’re talking about . . .

How the 2011 London riots unfolded

Why codeine deaths have reached a record high
Codeine
Getting to grips with . . .

Why codeine deaths have reached a record high

‘Third wave in retreat’
Today's newspaper front pages
Today’s newspapers

‘Third wave in retreat’

Will the UK avoid a second year of A-level results chaos?
Exam results
Getting to grips with . . .

Will the UK avoid a second year of A-level results chaos?

Popular articles

Why your AstraZeneca vaccine may mean no European holidays
Boris Johnson receives his second dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine
Getting to grips with . . .

Why your AstraZeneca vaccine may mean no European holidays

‘Wobbling’ Moon will cause worldwide flooding, Nasa warns
Flooding in Florida after Hurricane Irma hit in 2017
Why we’re talking about . . .

‘Wobbling’ Moon will cause worldwide flooding, Nasa warns

Does the Tokyo Olympics branding amount to cultural appropriation?
BBC Tokyo Olympics trailer
Expert’s view

Does the Tokyo Olympics branding amount to cultural appropriation?

The Week Footer Banner