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Retail prices

RPI up slightly to 1.5% and CPI rises to 0.7%

The figures cover the period up to March 2021 and show the continued importance of RPI as the measure favoured by trade unionists.

In March, the Retail Prices Index (RPI) stood at 296.9 (January 1987=100) and the annual rate of inflation increased slightly from 1.4% in February to 1.5%.

Rising prices for motor fuels and clothing resulted in the largest upward contributions to the inflation rate.

These were partially offset by falls in the price of food.

Under the Consumer Prices Index Housing (CPIH), the annual rate of inflation in March rose to 1.0% from 0.7% in February.

The annual rate of inflation under the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) in March rose to 0.7% from 0.4% in February.

Figures for April 2021 are due to be published on 19 May 2021.

Latest pay deals

1.9% pay increase in the three months to March 2021

The median increase in in the three months to march 2021 was 1.9%. The median increase in the lowest pay rate was 2.0%.

However these figures are based on a small number of pay settlements.

Figures for April 2021 are due to be published on 19 May 2021.
Pay deals are calculated from Payline database of over 2,000 pay and conditions settlements. graph of pay settlements and inflation

Average earnings

Growth in February earnings continues as does wage gap

The official figure for average weekly earnings in February for regular pay (excluding bonuses) in the whole economy rose to 4.5%.

However, this growth shows a widening economic gap between Financial and Business Services which saw continued high growth at 6.7%, the Public Sector at 5.7% and other sectors such as Manufacturing which stayed flat at 1.7%.

The data is likely still being driven by a fall in the number and proportion of lower-paid employee jobs during the coronavirus pandemic. Underlying growth is likely under 2.5%.

Wholesaling, retailing, hotels & restaurants grew to 2.6% from 1.1% despite the continuing lockdown.
Figures for March 2021 are due to be published on 18 May 2021.


Unemployment down slightly to 4.9%, claimant count down but still high at 2.6m

December 2020 to February 2021 estimates show a small quarterly decrease in the unemployment rate, the first quarterly decrease since October to December 2019. However, this figure is deceptive as the economic inactivity rate increased, as it did during the first coronavirus restrictions, and the employment rate continued to fall.

For December 2020 to February 2021, an estimated 1.67 million people were unemployed, up 311,000 on the same period the previous year but down 50,000 on the quarter.

The ONSí claimant count total includes people out of work and claiming Jobseeker's Allowance or Universal Credit.

The Claimant Count, as at 11 March 2021, increased to 2.7 million. This represents a monthly increase of 0.4% and an increase of 114.3%, or 1.4 million, since March 2020. The level has been relatively stable since May 2020.

Figures for March (unemployment) and April (claimant count) are due to be published on 18 May 2021.

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