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Living standards crisis continues as pay falls by 2%

Average earnings rose by just 0.7% from June to August, while inflation was 2.7%.

A woman looks out from a residential development in Tower Hamlets on February 21, 2013. Photograph: Getty Images.

The Tories are trumpeting today's jobs figures as further evidence that the economy is recovering. Unemployment fell by 18,000 to 2.49m from June to August (down by 0.1% to 7.7%), while employment rose by 155,000 to 29.9m (up by 0.3% to 71.7%).

But they're less keen to draw attention to the earnings figures. Total pay rose by just 0.7%, a real-terms cut of 2% and the lowest figure on record. In the public sector, pay fell in nominal terms by 0.5%, the first cash-terms cut since records began in 2001. 

Expect Labour to highlight these figures as evidence of a cost-of-living crisis and of a recovery "for the few, not the many". One reason why earnings growth remains so depressingly weak is the rise in underemployment. There are now a record 1.45m people working part-time because they can't find a full-time job.