Higher pay – but not quite time to crack open the champagne

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So, we can officially say the year-long incomes squeeze is over.

Comparing the three-month average, as we should to ensure the figures are robust and less affected by monthly volatility, wages are now growing more quickly than prices.

That is the first time this has happened for a year and - at 2.9% - it is the highest wage growth figure since August 2015.

Inflation has eased after the spike that was caused largely by the fall in the value of the pound after the Brexit referendum, which made imports of things like food and fuel more expensive.

Alongside the strong employment figures, improved wage growth means there is certainly plenty of better news in the latest Office for National Statistics figures.

But - a few words of caution.

Weak incomes have been a problem for a decade.

It will need a long period of wages rising above the rate of inflation for people to feel significantly better off.

And, for the public sector, the 1% cap on wage rises is only just being released.

Many millions of people still have incomes below where they were a decade ago.

The financial crisis, poor economic performance and major changes in public sector financing have cast a very long shadow.

Wiggle room

The Bank of England has also warned that inflation could creep up again over the next few months due to higher oil prices and energy bills.

At present, wages are just 0.2% above the three-month inflation average.

That does not leave a huge amount of wiggle room if wage growth momentum is not maintained.

On productivity, the news has turned sour.

After six months of stronger figures - the best since the financial crisis - today the numbers have once again lurched into negative territory.

Yes, the figures are volatile as the ONS says, but the negative reading reveals that Britain's productivity problem, the ability to produce more per person per hour, is not over.

And until we can say confidently that it is, and few know when that might be, the economy's capacity to create wealth is limited.

And it's that limit that means wage increases are likely to remain in the slow lane for a while yet.

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