More in work but inflation hits earnings

More workers were on company payrolls in Sunderland last month than before the coronavirus pandemic, new figures show.

More people in work
More people in work

Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures show 115,568 people in the city were on company payrolls in February – over 3,300 more than in February 2020 when the total was 122,225.

The figure is also 5,722 more than in the same month last year, when 109,846 people were on payrolls

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Nationally, the number of payrolled workers increased by 275,000 to 29.7 million but official figures show employees have seen the steepest fall in real wages for more than seven years, after earnings failed to keep up with price hikes.

Different ONS figures show average earnings, excluding bonuses, rose by 3.8% in the three months to January but failed to keep up with price increases due to record inflation – meaning they fell by one per cent in real terms – the steepest decline seen since July 2014.

In April, bills are expected to rocket for the average household when the energy price cap rises.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak acknowledged concerns over the rising cost of living ahead of his spring statement on March 23.

He said: "Thanks to the unprecedented economic support we've provided, we've now seen a year of falling unemployment and a stronger jobs market bounce back than so many predicted."

Frances O'Grady, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, said: "We need a plan to get wages rising, a boost to Universal Credit and a windfall tax on oil and gas profits – with the money used for energy grants for hard-pressed families."