The British economy hasn’t been doing so hot in recent years. Things haven’t been quite as terrible there as they’ve been in the rest of Europe, but compared to the United States and Japan — whose recoveries haven’t exactly been enviable — growth has been pretty sluggish…

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Here’s the odd part, though. Even as growth has been sluggish, the British labor market has actually been doing all right. As Stephanie Flanders, the economics editor at the BBC, notes, “There has now been a 6.8% (nearly 1.6 million) increase in private sector employment since the first quarter of 2010. In that same three-year period our economy has grown by less than 2.5%.”

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What’s going on? The main clue is found in real wage data. Even as employment grows, wages are plummeting, and considerably faster than in other recessions, as this chart shows: