asked the First Secretary of State and Secretary of State for Economic Affairs, on what basis increases in earnings are measured to give a guide to the progress of his incomes policy; and what calculation Her Majety's Government have made of the increase in earnings over the last year.
There are a number of different ways in which movements in wages and salaries are measured. The different series of figures vary in content, in coverage and in frequency. The main series published by the Ministry of Labour are:
Total wages and salaries. This information is compiled quarterly and annually as part of the national income statistics and is based on Inland Revenue data. It covers all wage and salary earnings and includes the effect of changes in the numbers employed.
(viii) Total domestic incomes. These are similarly compiled quarterly and annually as part of the national income statistics. They cover profit incomes (including income from self-employment and rent) in addition to wages and salaries.
These different series of figures are used for different purposes. The Ministry of Labour figures provide information on the various factors affecting wages and salaries, such as changes in hourly rates and in working hours. The Central Statistical Office figures estimate the total wages and salaries paid.
From the point of view of the general prices and incomes policy, it is the trend in total earnings per head over the economy as a whole which is the most significant figure, since it is this which needs to be set against the long-term trend in production per head. Unfortunately, it takes more time for information about earnings to become available than information about wage rates and, as the above list shows, there is no single comprehensive index of earnings per head. Taking all the available figures into account, it appears that weekly earnings per head have been rising by about 7 per cent. on average over the past year.