Average wages fell for the first time since records began in 1991, according to figures released by the Office for National Statistics.
The average wage, including bonuses, fell 0.4% in the year to March, taking the average annual salary to £24,000.
The public sector bucked the trend, with average wages including bonuses increasing 3.6%.The fall was largely due to the drop in bonuses. Excluding these, average earnings grew by 3%.
Meanwhile, the unemployment rate rose to 7.1% in March, with 2.22 million people now unemployed. Redundancies increased by 27,000 over the first three months of the year.