Bedford wages outstrip inflation as UK real-terms pay steadies

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Wages in Bedford outstripped inflation, as real-terms pay in the UK steadied, new figures show.

The Office for National Statistics said total pay including bonuses in the UK jumped by 8.5% and outstripped inflation for the first time since March 2022.

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The median wage in Bedford increased by 8.5% in the three months to JulyThe median wage in Bedford increased by 8.5% in the three months to July
The median wage in Bedford increased by 8.5% in the three months to July

However, experts said only some sectors, such as business and finance, have benefited – while low-paid workers in industries like retail and transport continue to see their wages fall short of inflation.

ONS figures show the median wage in Bedford had an 8.5% increase in the three months to July, which surpassed Consumer Prices Index (CPI) inflation rate of 7.8% over the same period.

The total pay in the UK – including bonuses – jumped by 8.5% and outstripped inflation by 0.6% for the first time since March 2022.

Median monthly pay in the area was £2,346 as of July – up from £2,181 the same month a year before.

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Excluding bonuses, workers’ average weekly earnings across the country grew by 7.8% in the three months to July – the highest increase since comparable records began in 2001.

Ben Harrison, director of the Work Foundation at Lancaster University – a think-tank for improving working lives in the UK – said: “Pay growth this month is the highest on record and that may be good news for some workers, but it remains concentrated in typically high paying sectors such as business and finance.

“Many low-paid workers in sectors like retail and transport are continuing to see their wages fall short of inflation.”

While the pay rise across the UK comes as a relief to households struggling with the cost-of-living crisis, it is also likely to reinforce concerns among Bank of England policymakers over stubborn inflation and increase pressure to raise interest rates yet again as they battle to bring inflation back to the 2% target.

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Martin Beck, chief economic adviser to the EY Item Club, a UK economic forecasting group, said the bank is facing a “quandary”, with wage growth remaining at a record high, but the jobs market turning after 14 rate rises in a row.

The latest figures show the unemployment rate in the UK surged to its highest level since July to September 2021, at 4.3% in the three months to July.

This was up from 4.2% in the previous three months, as the number of unemployed people rose by 159,000 quarter-on-quarter to 1.5 million.

In the East of England, unemployment rose by 1.2% in the three months to July, compared to the same period last year – meaning 4.3% of people were out of work.

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Darren Morgan, ONS director of economic statistics, said: “The proportion of people neither working nor looking for a job is slightly up, with more students, as well as the long-term sick reaching yet another record.”

The ONS added there were 281,000 working days lost because of labour disputes in July – with the majority in the education and health and social work sectors.