It looks like those hard times the Bank of England warned about are here already.
Even as unemployment dropped to its lowest in more than four decades last quarter, U.K. workers saw their real earnings fall for the first time in 2 1/2 years, data from the Office for National Statistics showed on Wednesday. That’s particularly problematic for a nation that has relied on buoyant consumers to keep spending, not least as it enters negotiations to leave the world’s largest trading bloc.
The figures are almost certain to fuel the debate over living standards as Britain prepares for a general election on June 8. Real earnings are still below their level before the 2008 financial crisis, and their recovery over the past two years is now going into reverse as the weak pound pushes up prices. BOE Governor Mark Carney said last week that households will face “challenging times” in the second half.