The latest ONS Labour Market statistics are out today, covering July to September 2014. Here are the key headlines:

  • Employment is up by 112,000 in the quarter to 30.7 million – a rise of 694,000 on a year ago.
  • Unemployment is down by 115,000 in the quarter to 1.96 million – 529,000 fewer than a year ago.
  • Of those in work, 1.3 million (4.2 per cent) are currently in part-time work but want to have full-time work.
  • The unemployment rate fell from 6.3 per cent to 6.0 per cent in the quarter – down from 7.6 per cent a year earlier.
  • Wages (excluding bonuses) rose by 1.3 per cent – the first time they have risen faster than inflation (currently at 1.2 per cent) since 2009.

It’s obviously welcome to see the trend on employment and unemployment continue – but as people have become accustomed to that news the focus has sharpened onto real wages. The big question therefore is if wages will continue to rise faster than inflation in the next few quarters. This could be a blip, but if it isn’t then that’s the measure which will start to allow people to feel the benefit of the recovery. Currently the Conservatives lead in the polls on who is ‘good for the economy’ and Labour lead on who is ‘good for me and my family’ – if real wages rise further and faster then it may be an opportunity to seize that ground from the Opposition.

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