TORIES grasped yesterday at news that wage rises have crept above prices for the first time since their 2010 election.
Rock-bottom inflation due to collapsing oil prices allowed the Conservatives to parade a puny 1.8 per cent increase in average pay in the year to October.
PM David Cameron boasted on Twitter: “Our long-term economic plan is working.”
But the slight rise follows six years of huge wage decline.
Labour shadow work and pensions secretary Rachel Reeves warned that “working people are set to see the biggest fall in wages of any Parliament since 1874-1880.
“There is a huge amount of lost ground to catch up.”
The 1.8 per cent figure was also warped by big pay rises in the finance and business services sectors, where wages were up 3 per cent.
In contrast average pay went up just 0.9 per cent in 12 months for workers in jobs in the retail and restaurant trades — a real-terms cut.
Public-sector pay was up 1 per cent, representing a freeze against official inflation.
The wage figures were part of the latest Office for National Statistics briefing that also revealed headline jobless totals had dropped by 63,000 between September and October to 1.958 million.
But 16,000 more women between 18-24 became jobless compared with the previous quarter.
And 1.31m part-time and 575,000 temp workers were still hunting secure full-time work, with 2.285m “economically inactive” because they couldn’t find work.