However, economists warned that ordinary Britons are paying the price for record employment with below-inflation wage growth and a squeeze on living standards. More people are in work but for effectively less money, when inflation is taken into account, experts said.
Average earnings increased by 1.5pc in the year to November, down by 0.3pc on the previous month, the Office for National Statistics said. The Retail Prices Index measure of inflation - traditionally used to calculate wages - reached 3.1pc in December.
John Philpott, director of The Jobs Economist, a consultancy, said: “The UK employment and unemployment figures may continue to beat expectations but what’s really astounding is the unprecedentedly long squeeze on pay packets. This is continuing to sustain a ‘jobs without growth’ economy but at the price of falling labour productivity and reduced living standards.
“However, while such a pay squeeze made obvious sense when preserving jobs at the depth of the recession in 2008 and 2009, it is no substitute for a proper economic recovery that creates jobs, cuts unemployment and makes people in work better-off.”
David Tinsley, economist at BNP Paribas, said earnings growth was “benign”, adding “it remains a puzzle that an economy showing basically flat growth is generating a rise in total hours worked.”
Other figures showed a “worrying” jump in redundancies toward the end of 2012, suggesting the labour market crisis will continue into 2013, Mr Philpott said.
Lloyds on Wednesday became the latest bank to announce a further 940 job cuts this year. Earlier in the day Flybe, the no-frills carrier said it planned to axe 300 jobs and yesterday unions said Rolls-Royce was to shed around 400 roles.