Labour data

Days lost to strikes at 10-year high as wages slip

Jeremy Hunt
Jeremy Hunt: difficult decisions

The number of working days lost to strikes in October – 417,000 – was the highest since November 2011, according to the Office for National Statistics.

New figures, which come as rail workers begin another series of walk-outs, also show the second largest fall in real wages this year.

Real wages are down 2.7% on the year, said the Work Foundation.

The Treasury said that an inflation-matching pay increase of 11% for all public sector workers would cost an estimated £28 billion, worsening debt and risking embedding inflation in our economy.

That would be a cost to each household of just under £1,000 – the equivalent of increasing the basic rate of income tax by over 4.5 percentage points.

The ONS data shows the unemployment rate for August to October 2022 increased by 0.1 percentage points on the quarter to 3.7%. 

UK unemployment remains close to historic lows, and remains lower than the Republic of Ireland (4.4%), Canada (5.1%), the Euro area (6.5%), France (7.1%), Sweden (7.7%), Italy (7.8%) and Spain (12.5%).

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said: “While unemployment in the UK remains close to historic lows, high inflation continues to plague economies around the world as we manage the impacts of Covid-19 and Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

“To get the British economy back on track, we have a plan which will help to more than halve inflation next year – but that requires some difficult decisions now. Any action that risks embedding high prices into our economy will only prolong the pain for everyone, and stunt any prospect of long-term economic growth.

“With job vacancies at near record highs, we are committed to helping people back into work, and helping those in employment to raise their incomes, progress in work, and become financially independent.”

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