Advertisement

The big income squeeze - is it finally over?

The governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney. Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Ministers have been clearing their diaries today to make themselves available for interviews on the economy.

It follows employment figures this morning which the Lib Dems claim show the government is creating a new job for "every minute" of the day.

This morning's jobs figures showed 115,000 fewer unemployed in the last three months which has maintained an unemployment rate of 6%.

But the most significant statistic released this morning, was the rate of wage growth.

For the first time since 2009, it is growing at a faster rate than inflation.

Excluding bonuses, it's 1.3% higher than a year earlier.

Inflation, as measured by CPI, was 1.2% in September.

So what does it mean for the political battle in the months before the General Election?

While the economy has been growing for some time (the UK is projected to have the fastest growing economy in the G7) the feel good factor has not spread across the country.

Labour says many of the jobs have been low wage and part-time and Shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls, has focussed attention on the those who feel incomes have been "squeezed" by a combination of wage freezes and rising prices.

That argument is clearly less effective now - but how much less?

A 0.1% difference between wages and prices won't mean much to most people.

Wages are rising faster than inflation for the first time since 2009. Credit: Chris Radburn/PA Wire

In fact, it is barely unnoticeable.

But the important factor here is the trend.

The Bank of England governor, Mark Carney, predicts inflation will keep falling and wages will keep growing.

By the end of next year, pay growth is projected to rise to 3.25%.

If inflation falls below 1%, as Mr Carney warns it might, then the difference will be felt.

Politically, however, it may be too late to influence voters before the election in May which is now less than six months away.

More on this story