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Economics Falling wages ‘expose crisis in our living standards’

BRITAIN is facing a “crisis in living standards,” Labour said today after wages took another tumble.

The TUC called for the minimum wage to be increased to £10 an hour “as quickly as possible” to combat the continued problem of pay rising by less than inflation.

New employment figures showed a record 32.2 million people in work in the three months to November — an increase of 102,000 on the previous quarter.

Unemployment fell by 3,000 to 1.44 million, which is 160,000 lower than a year ago, but the number of social security recipients went up by 8,600 last month, to 832,500.

And wages increased by just 2.5 per cent in the year to November, below official inflation at 3 per cent.

Shadow work and pensions secretary Debbie Abrahams said: “While we welcome the overall increase in employment, the fact that real wages are falling and millions are trapped in low-paid, insecure work while the cost of basic essentials soars, proves the Tories are presiding over a crisis in living standards.

“These figures mask both regional inequalities and the employment gap faced by women, disabled people and [black and minority ethnic] groups, who have too often borne the brunt of austerity cuts.”

Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey claimed that “wages are rising” and said “more people are getting into work than ever before.”

But TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady hit back, saying: “Companies have been reporting healthy profits for the last year, but they are not passing on a fair share of profits to their workers.

“The government must raise the minimum wage to £10 as quickly as possible and hardworking teachers, midwives and other public servants must get a proper pay rise after years of artificial pay restrictions.”

In several regions, the number of unemployed increased against the overall trend.

In Wales, the figure rose by 4.9 per cent, in south-west England by 3.7 per cent, in Yorkshire and Humberside by 5 per cent, in the West Midlands by 5.5 per cent and in London by 5.2 per cent.

The biggest falls were in north-east England (down 5.2 per cent), the East Midlands (down 4.1 per cent) and north-west England and Scotland (both down 4 per cent).

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