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Wages rises accelerate to fastest pace since 2008

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Wages are continuing to rise at their highest level for nearly a decade, the latest official Office for National Statistics figures show.

Average weekly earnings, excluding bonuses, went up by 3.3% in the three months to October, the biggest rise since November 2008.

Average weekly wages are £495, £25,740 a year, the highest since 2011, once adjusted for inflation.

The number of people in work rose by 79,000 to 32.48 million, a record high.

That is the highest figure since records began in 1971.

Unemployment increased by 20,000 to 1.38 million, although the total is still lower than a year ago.

The number of unemployed men increased by 27,000, while the number of unemployed women fell by 8,000.

The reason both employment and unemployment have increased is a result of the UK’s rising population and more people joining the labour force, such as students and older people.

Job vacancies were up by 10,000 on the quarter to a record high of 848,000.

“The employment rate has continued to rise in the most recent three months, returning to a joint record high, boosted by an increase in full-time workers,” said the ONS senior statistician Matt Hughes.

“There was a corresponding fall in the inactivity rate, while the unemployment rate was virtually unchanged.

“Real earnings are now growing faster than at any time since around the end of 2016.”

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Employment Minister Alok Sharma said: “Today’s statistics show the enduring strength of our jobs market, with wages outpacing inflation for the ninth month in a row and employment at a record high.

Howard Archer, chief economic adviser to the EY Item Club, said: “Current decent employment may be influenced by companies being keen to employ while they can, given the increased concern in some sectors over a lack of suitably skilled candidates.

“In some cases this has been significantly influenced by fewer workers coming from the EU,” he said.