The growth of average earnings slowed down in April to the slowest pace since December as January's flurry of bumper bonuses in the City and elsewhere fell out of the three-month calculation.
Official numbers from National Statistics yesterday should help to allay lingering fears at the Bank of England that a round of generous pay deals this year could turn a one-off jump in oil and other energy prices
into an inflationary spiral. NS said that in the three months to April the year-on-year rise in average earnings dipped to 4.0 per cent from a downwardly revised 4.4 per cent in the three months to March.
In April alone, earnings stood just 3.3 per cent higher than in April last year, the weakest monthly increase since January, 2006.
Excluding bonuses, earnings growth in the three months to April held steady at 3.6 per cent.
Howard Archer, UK and European economist at the consultants Global Insight, described this outcome as "benign".
"These rates are well below the 4.5 per cent level considered consistent with the Bank of England's (two per cent) inflation target," he said. "Wage growth is still one inflationary dog that isn't biting.
"Furthermore, latest survey evidence from Incomes Data Services and Industrial Relations Services indicates that pay settlements remain broadly contained in May."
The stable trend in pay was confirmed by findings from the EEF showing that manufacturing pay deals struck during the three months to May averaged 3.1 per cent, in line with those since the start of the year.
Of the 347 wage settlements during the latest three months, covering 63,573 employees, 168 were for between 2.01 per cent and three per cent - 113 of them for three per cent exactly.
At the extremes, 24 amounted to a freeze - a higher proportion than in any months since March last year - and 47 were for four per cent or more.
"The fact that pay settlements in manufacturing have remained stable since the start of the year has allayed fears, in this sector of the economy at least, that the recent increase in inflation could lead to escalating pay demands," said David Yeandle, deputy director of employment policy at the EEF.
In March, manufacturing pay deals averaged 2.9 per cent. They then jumped to 3.2 per cent in April then eased back to 3.1 per cent in May - but the averages for both March and May were based on relatively few deals.