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Squeeze on real incomes continues despite further fall in unemployment across Suffolk and north Essex

PUBLISHED: 11:13 18 October 2017 | UPDATED: 11:30 18 October 2017

Unemployment in the UK has fallen to its lowest level since 2005.
Picture: PA Wire

Unemployment in the UK has fallen to its lowest level since 2005. Picture: PA Wire

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Growth in pay has continued to fall behind the rise in prices, despite unemployment falling to a 12-year low, according to official data.

The jobless total fell by 52,000 in the three months to August to 1.4m, the lowest since 2005, figures from the Office for National Statistics show, while the number of people in work climbed by a similar figure to more than 32m.

But growth in average earnings in the year to August remained unchanged compared with the previous month at 2.2%, falling further behind the RPI and CPI inflation rates of 3.9% and 3% respectively and so tightening the squeeze on disposable incomes.

The narrower count of those eligible for unemployment-related benefits fell by more than 11,000 to 795,470, although once adjusted for normal seasonal variations the so-called claimant count was 1,700 higher than in August at 804,000.

At local level, where all the data is unadjusted, claimant count unemployment rates remained largely unchanged across Suffolk and north Essex, with most totals falling slightly compared with the previous month.

The biggest change in Suffolk was in Waveney where the count fell by 135 to 2,165 and the rate by 0.2 of a percentage point to 3.3%.

Smaller falls left the local rates unchanged in Ipswich, down 30 to 1,720 (a rate of 2.0%), Suffolk Coastal, down 25 to 430 (0.6%), Babergh, down 10 to 435 (0.9%), and Forest Heath, also down 10 to 320 (0.8%).

However, St Edmundsbury went against the trend, with the count rising by 20 to 780 and the rate by 0.1 to 1.2%, as did Mid Suffolk, where the total grew by 10 to 470, although the rate remained unchanged at 0.8%.

Rates were unchanged across the board in north and mid Essex with the count falling in most districts, including Colchester, down 45 to 1,325 (1.1%), Tendring, also down 45 to 1,990 (2.6%), Braintree, down 20 to 930 (1.0%), Chelmsford, down 15 to 1,155 (1.1%), and Maldon, down 10 to 345 (0.9%).

In Uttlesford, the count remained unchanged at 235, leaving the local rate at 0.5%.

Employment minister Damian Hinds said: “Our economy is helping to create full-time, permanent jobs which are giving people across the UK the chance of securing a reliable income.”

But TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Pay packets are taking a hammering. This is the sixth month in a row that prices have risen faster than wages. Britain desperately needs a pay rise.”

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