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Households hit as wage rises dip

The importance of saving amid the tough economic climate has been highlighted by new data which shows wage rises have fallen back.

With lower awards in leisure, retail, fast food and other private services firms, the median wage rise in the quarter to October dropped to 2.3 per cent, which was a slight decrease on the 2.4 per cent seen in the previous month, a report by Incomes Data Services (IDS) found.

More significantly, the figure is well short of the rate of inflation, which has been hovering around the five per cent mark, meaning that pay packets are not keeping up with the cost of living.

Ken Mulkearn, editor of IDS's pay report, said that despite a 2.5 per cent increase in the national minimum wage to £6.08 an hour during October, many people are facing "a continued squeeze on their incomes".

And with many in the public sector facing a pay freeze, or even the prospect of losing their jobs as the Government looks to cut back on spending in a bid to reduce the nation's debts, the knowledge that there might be some savings to fall back on could provide some peace of mind.

Mr Mulkearn added: "We might have expected most retailers to apply the 2.5 per cent increase in the statutory minimum to their own pay scales. Some have, and others have paid above 2.5 per cent, but many awards have come in below this level, though most awards in the sector are above two per cent."

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