Pay awards across UK firms weaken for first time since 2016 - XpertHR

People walk through the financial district of Canary Wharf, London, Britain 28 September 2017. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - The average pay rise awarded by British employers weakened during the three months to July for the first time in nearly two years, according to a survey on Thursday that tallied with other recent signs of weak wage growth.

Wage data provider XpertHR said the median annual pay award had fallen to 2.3 percent, compared with 2.5 percent over the three months to June.

Still, XpertHR said the data were finely balanced, as a couple of extra pay deals worth either more or less than 2.3 percent could have pushed July’s figure back up to 2.5 percent or down to 2.0 percent.

The figures are likely to interest officials at the Bank of England, which has repeatedly downgraded its forecasts for wage growth after pay growth failed to accelerate significantly.

Official data last week showed total annual wage growth slowed to a nine-month low of 2.4 percent in the three months to June, below forecasts for it to hold at 2.5 percent, even though the unemployment rate fell to a new 43-year low of 4.0 percent.

XpertHR said it sampled 51 pay awards in the three months to July -- a relatively quiet time of the year since most annual pay rounds take place in the first four months of the year.

Reporting by Andy Bruce, editing by David Milliken