Today’s (Wednesday 16 July) unemployment figures mask a nation that is working harder, but getting poorer warned the leader of Britain’s largest union, Unite.
According to today’s figures more than 4.5 million people are self-employed, the highest since records began in 1992, after an increase of 404,000 over the past year.
Average earnings increased by just 0.3 per cent in the year to May, 0.5 per cent down on the previous month. The 0.3 per cent rise was the lowest since 2009, while excluding bonuses, the figure was 0.7 per cent, the lowest since records began in 2001.
Len McCluskey Unite general secretary said: "Falling unemployment is welcome, but now is not the time to pop the champagne open. Behind these figures is a story of rising insecurity as self-employment soars to record levels while the assault on living standards continues as wages lag behind inflation.
"For many any sense of an economic recovery is simply passing them by as this government fosters a low paid, low skilled economy built on the back of precarious employment. We must always remember that the growing number of self-employed have no rights or protections, let alone a stable income.
"With wage growth at its lowest rate since 2001, while inflation continues to vastly outstrip wage rates, ordinary people are working harder and getting poorer. The Bank of England must put this to the fore when deciding interest rate levels. Too many people are living pay cheque to pay cheque and there is simply not the slack for additional demands on their incomes."
For further information please contact Unite head of media and campaigns Alex Flynn on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869.
Notes to editors:
Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.