Over 2,000 more workers joined company payrolls across Northamptonshire last month, according to Office for National Statistics figures.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said an increase in payrolled staff across the UK was proof that the jobs market was “thriving.”
But figures show wages are struggling to keep up with the increasing cost of living.
ONS data revealed an estimated 203,357 people were on company payrolls across West Northamptonshire during December, 1,189 more than in November making it the second-highest month-on-month increase since records began in 2014.
The figure was also up from 198,491 in December 2020 and above pre-pandemic levels – 201,051 workers were recorded on company payrolls in December 2019.
In North Northamptonshire, an estimated 171,013 people were on company payrolls in December – 1,068 more than in November, up from 166,313 in December 2020 and more than the 168,500 recorded in December 2019.
The number of workers on UK payrolls jumped by a record 184,000 month-on-month, to 29.5 million.
The ONS cautioned the payroll figures, which do not include the self-employed, are early estimates which can be revised in future months.
Darren Morgan, director of economic statistics at the ONS, said new survey figures showed the unemployment rate had also fallen back to pre-pandemic levels nationally.
He said: “Those reporting they’d recently been made redundant fell to their lowest since records began more than a quarter of a century ago.
“However, while job vacancies reached a new high in the last quarter of 2021, they are now growing more slowly than they were last summer.”
The data also shows the median monthly salary for payrolled workers in West Northamptonshire stood at £2,074 in December – broadly in line with the month before — while wages increased rose slightly from £2,014 in November to £2,034 at the end of the year in North Northamptonshire.
Separate figures show in the UK the average wage growth including bonuses was 4.2 percent in the three months to November.
However, with inflation hitting 5.1 percent in November, it means real wages failed to keep up with the rising cost of living for the first time since July 2020.
A spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson blamed changes in the global economy for the cost of living crisis.
He said: “Globally we are seeing challenges caused by inflation and cost of living, particularly as the global economy emerges from the worst of the pandemic
“Real wages are 2.9 percent above pre-pandemic levels. But we know people are facing pressure with the cost of living.
“That’s why we’re taking action worth billions of pounds to help – be it the Universal Credit taper, increasing the minimum wage, supporting households with their bills or freezing alcohol and fuel duty.”