COVID-19: Pay growth at highest level since 2008 as Sunak prepares to extend furlough aid

·1-min read

Rates of pay growth are running at their highest level since 2008, according to official figures, despite the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on large parts of the economy.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported average weekly earnings up by 4.7% on an annual basis during the three months to December.

It suggests that many of those in work are being rewarded for their performances during the crisis as, when the effects of bonuses are stripped out, the rate of growth slows to 4.1%.

However, the wider data revealed estimates showing that 726,000 payrolled employees had lost their jobs during the crisis to date - a rise of 83,000 during January alone.

The ONS figures were published as Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, makes the finishing touches to next week's budget in which he is widely tipped to extend the furlough scheme and other employment support due to lingering COVID-19 restrictions that have strangled the economy.

PM Boris Johnson's roadmap out of lockdown for England revealed on Monday, while welcomed by businesses for giving clarity on likely sector-by-sector reopening, also confirmed that many will have to wait months before getting back in gear.

It is set to be a similar path for the rest of the UK.