The UK unemployment rate slipped lower in the three months to April to hit 6.6%, but wage growth fell well short of hopes, sparking fresh fears about the ability of consumer spending to sustain the recovery.
The number of people employed rose sharply over the quarter, by 345,000 to 30.54m, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
The fall in joblessness was below last month's reading of 6.8% as well as the 6.7% print which economists had anticipated.
It took the rate of employment for those aged between 16 and 64 higher by six tenths of a percentage point to 79.2%, two tenths of a percentage point below the previous peak in early 2005.
But the pace of gains in average weekly earnings slowed to 0.7% year-on-year over the three months to April, to £478, well below the 1.2% rise expected by analysts.
Excluding bonuses, average weekly earnings advanced at a 0.9% clip, to £449 a week, for which a rate of growth of 1.2% had also been forecast.
Still slack in the labour market
Martin Beck, senior economic advisor to the EY ITEM Club, said the Bank of England's monetary policy committee (MPC) will be reassured by the continued absence of any wage-led inflationary pressure, which should dampen pressure from the more hawkish members of the MPC for a rise in interest rates.
However, he added: "The implications for continued growth in consumer spending are more troubling. For now at least, spending will have to continue to rely on more people entering employment rather than any sizeable boost to individual consumers' spending power."
Samuel Tombs, Senior UK Economist at Capital Economics, said: "So, with few signs that the labour market is a source of inflationary pressure, we still think the MPC can afford to keep interest rates on hold until well into next year."
Tombs highlighted how earnings growth excluding bonus payments (which were therefore not affected by tax distortions) also slowed and the fact that "the proportion of people who are in part-time work and would like to work longer hours or who are technically inactive but would like a job has remained very high by past standards."
Rob Wood, Chief UK economist at Berenberg Bank, said: "These data back up our call that the BoE will hike rates in November 2014. [...] The super strong employment figures contrast with sharply weakening wage growth. That was caused by the echo of last years tax driven bonus distortion."
The job figures showed private sector employment expanding by 447,000 to 25.13m in the latest period.
The claimant count, or the number of people claiming Jobseekers' allowance fell by 27,400 from the month before, to reach 1.09m (consensus: -25,000).
Job vacancies were on the up in the latest three months to May, rising by 39,000 to 637,000.
Labour productivity measured in terms of output per hour rose 0.3% in terms of quarterly rates of change between quarter four and quarter three of 2013, ONS revealed, while unit labour costs decreased by 0.2%.
The number of hours worked increased 1.5% to 981.6m in the three months to April.