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The UK economy is undergoing a “seismic shift”, Employment Minister Esther McVey has claimed, after official figures showed wages keeping pace with inflation and unemployment falling again.
Average earnings grew by 1.7% in the three months to February compared to 12 months earlier, the Office for National Statistics said.
CPI was measured at 1.6% for March and 1.7% in February, meaning real incomes are now growing.
There was more good news for the Government from the ONS on the labour market, with another significant fall of 77,000 in the unemployment count.
The headline rate of unemployment is now 6.9% - the lowest rate since 2009 and beneath the 7% threshold at which Mark Carney initially said the Bank of England would consider increasing interest rates.
Ms McVey said today's figures proved ministers were "putting this country back on a path to prosperity", and emphasised the progress that had been made since the Coalition came to power.
“You have to look at what a seismic shift we’ve done - look at how we’ve come out of the financial crash that we were given," she told BBC News.
Ms McVey also rejected the suggestion that the statistics represented only a minor change in people's circumstances. "I wouldn’t call that a small victory at all," she said on Sky.
George Osborne hailed the figures as "compelling evidence that our economic plan is working", but stressed that the economic recovery was still a work in progress.
"These remain difficult times for families facing pressures on their budgets, and much work needs still to be done to build a resilient economy," the Chancellor said in a statement.
But Ed Balls insisted that the Government had presided over a fall in overall living standards, in spite of recent encouraging data.
"We're on track to have the first parliament ever, since records began in 1870, where people in work, working people will be absolutely worse off in 2015 than in 2010," the Shadow Chancellor told World at One.
"That is a cost-of-living crisis because people are already £1600 worse off."
Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Rachel Reeves also took issue with the Government's response, insisting that families were still being hit by the 'cost-of-living crisis'.
“The Employment Minister earlier today talked about a ‘seismic shift’ in the economy. I think that sounds incredibly complacent compared to the lives that most people are leading," she told BBC News.
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