Capital's average wage rise beats rest of the UK

THE average wage in the Capital is rising at a faster rate than the rest of the UK, despite the impact of the recession.

New official figures show that the average worker in Edinburgh now earns a gross wage of 516.60 a week – or 26,848 a year.

The 2009 figure is 3.8 per cent ahead of a year earlier and is higher than every Scottish city apart from Aberdeen.

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And the extent of the growth in Edinburgh is well ahead of the UK average, which increased by 2.3 per cent to 490.20.

City leaders say that the extent of the increase – well above the current rate of inflation at 2.9 per cent – is another sign that the Capital's economy is proving more resilient.

However, it is thought that the figure could be down to the changing employment mix of the city, with many lower-paid staff now likely to have dropped into unemployment, rather than companies giving staff pay rises.

And it is warned that there is likely to be a slowdown in the rate of wages growth this year as the public and private sector tighten the purse strings.

Councillor Tom Buchanan, the city's economic development leader, said: "While unemployment is up significantly in Edinburgh, in real terms Edinburgh has always had lower unemployment than the rest of the country, which makes it a tight labour market with wages above average.

"Looking forward though, things will get more difficult and it is unlikely that this year will see the same levels of pay growth as the economy tightens."

In the City of London, the average wage increased by only one per cent, much slower than Edinburgh. However, Edinburgh is still lagging well behind, with the average worker paid more than 912 a week in London, or 47,460 a year.

Edinburgh's rise in average pay comes at the same time as there has been a sharp increase in unemployment. The number of people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance has increased by 46 per cent in the last year, to 10,183.

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Ron Hewitt, chief executive of the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, said: "If lower-paid people fall out of work and higher-paid people stay in it is possible the average would rise. But a lot of people in the private sector have been working three-day weeks so it is difficult to know how that comes about. "

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