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UK average earnings growth soared in the three months to May, accelerating to 7.3%, the fastest growth on record in a series going back to 2000. A record-high 24.3% jump in bonuses helped fuel the increase, but statisticians warned that the jump in bonuses is measured against depressed levels a year earlier. Regular pay, excluding bonuses, jumped by 6.6%, also a record high, the Office for National Statistics said Thursday.
Earnings were boosted by both easy year-ago comparisons, with the pandemic wreaking havoc with pay packages. Statisticians also cited compositional effects, with job losses hitting the lowest-paid hardest. Correcting for both those factors, ONS official estimate total earnings growth within a range of 3.9% and 5.1% and regular earnings growth between 3.2% and 4.4%.
The outturn presents a dilemma for the Treasury, which will soon decide on whether to retain the "triple lock" on pensions payments, which adjusts for inflation by the highest of earnings growth in the May-July period, CPI growth (as measured in September) and 2.5% or the September CPI reading. Chancellor Rishi Sunak has evaded committing to the triple lock in recent interviews.