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UK average wages cross the pre-2008 levels, but zero-hour contracts hit peak

The average real wages have finally gone above their pre-2008 levels, indicating recovery from the crisis at last.

The Office of National Statistics said earlier this week that the average real wages, an indicator of inflations, have crossed their pre-crisis levels in December. This means that the pay packers of workers (adjusted to inflation) are worth more today than they were at their peak before the financial crisis. With a growth of 1.8%, average wages stood at £474 in December, just above the £473 level of March 2008.

Despite this landmark, the actual rate of wage growth has actually slowed recently. The growth in payment fell down to 2.9% in December, compared to 3.2% just a month prior. In fact, the growth rate stood at 4% in June 2019. 

Another problematic trend seen was the number of zero-hour contracts, which reached their highest-ever numbers in December. By the end of last year, a total of 974,000 such contracts existed in the UK, indicating the general harsh working conditions of the workers. Estimates suggest that about 100,000 women joined the zero-hour contracts in 2019 alone. Of these, about one-third belong to the age group of 16-24 years. 

It was also revealed that employment numbers increased rapidly, as people scrambled for jobs during the last 3months of political instability surrounding Brexit. In Oct-Dec 2019, 180,000 new people joined the workforce, taking the total UK workforce to 32.9 million. As a result, the unemployment rate stood steadily at 3.8%, the lowest since the 1970s.

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