UK employment rose by a record 345,000 in the three months to April but Britain's workers were squeezed by a dramatic slowdown in pay growth, official figures showed today. 

The number of people in work stood at 30.54 million, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), after a rise which was the highest since records began in 1971. 

It means 780,000 jobs have been added since a year earlier, the biggest annual rise since 1989.

But pay growth for the period slowed to 0.7%, a sharp fall on last month's figure of 1.7%, blunting hopes of a return to a period of real-terms pay growth. 

The increase was well below the latest inflation rate of 1.8%, meaning the cost of living is still going up more quickly than pay packets. 

This slowdown in total pay was largely accounted for by bonuses, which fell sharply compared with a period last year when in many cases they were deferred to April as tax changes were introduced. But regular pay growth also slowed, to 0.9% from 1.3%.

Unemployment in the UK fell by 161,000 to 2.16 million, with the jobless rate dropping to 6.6%.