Working hours increase as earnings growth slows

Employees are working longer hours for falling pay, according to government figures which show unemployment has risen to its highest rate for 17 years.

Labour Market Statistics released by the Office for National Statistics state that 1.79 million people are now out of work, with unemployment increasing by 0.5% to 5.7%. 

Growth in average earnings, both including and excluding bonuses also fell by 0.1% for the period between June and August 2008. Although employment has fallen over the quarter, the total hours worked remained unchanged at 944.2 million, reflecting an increase in average hours worked per week, particularly by women in full-time employment.

In terms of remuneration, the annual rate of growth in average earnings excluding bonuses was 3.6% cent in the three months to August 2008, down 0.1 from the three months to July. Including bonuses, it was 3.4%, down 0.1% from the three months to July.

The last time there were larger quarterly increases in the unemployment rate and level was in the early 1990s.