Site logo

UK wages rising at record pace, higher interest rates likely

Wages in the United Kingdom are rising at a record-high rate amid stubbornly high inflation, official figures showed on Tuesday, bolstering expectations that interest rates will increase again – to the worry of homeowners who are seeing their mortgage payments spike to levels not seen since the global financial crisis 15 years ago.

The Office for National Statistics said wages, excluding bonuses, rose by 7.3 per cent in the three months to May, matching the highest rate since records began in 2001. The private sector was the main driver behind the increase.

For months, workers have been seeking pay that keeps pace with high inflation, which is running at 8.7 per cent despite declines in energy prices and a series of interest rate hikes from the Bank of England.

The central bank has been raising rates since late 2021 to get a grip on rising prices, which were first stoked by supply chain problems caused by the coronavirus pandemic and then Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which sent energy and food prices surging.

The bank lifted its main interest rate by half a percentage point to a 15-year high of 5 per cent last month and warned of further increases if inflation fails to show signs of falling back towards its target of 2 per cent. By making borrowing more expensive, the bank is trying to keep a lid on spending, which should get inflation down.

But with unemployment low, workers have been able to demand higher pay as inflation erodes their spending power, threatening to further fuel price spikes. That’s despite the jobless rate rising to 4 per cent, when economists had anticipated an unchanged reading of 3.8 per cent.

“Soaring wage growth … gets us into the kind of wage-price spiral dynamics that central banks absolutely hate and usually do anything to avoid,” said Neil Wilson, chief markets analyst at

The new wages data cemented expectations that the bank will lift its key interest rate to 5.25 per cent next month, possibly to 5.5 per cent. That was evident in the fact that the pound rose to a 15-month high of US$1.29 against the greenback after the figures were released.

Expectations of higher borrowing rates are having a knock-on effect across lending markets, particularly in the housing market.

For example, the average two-year, fixed mortgage rate rose to 6.66 per cent on Tuesday, according to financial information company Moneyfacts. That’s the highest level since August 2008, just before the collapse of US investment bank Lehman Brothers.

Around 2.4 million fixed-rate mortgages are due to expire by the end of 2024, according to figures from trade association UK Finance. Households will be looking to lock in new deals, which, as things stand, will be substantially more expensive.

“There is a significant increase in rates for customers maturing off their original product,” Henry Jordan, home commercial director at Nationwide Building Society, told lawmakers in Parliament.


Read More


  • No comments yet.
  • Add a comment