Over 5 million workers on low pay

Over 5 million workers – one in five of the total – are in low-paid jobs, according to a think-tank analysis. Levels of low pay – defined as being below two-thirds of median (average) hourly pay – have now gone back to those last seen in the late 1960s.

Key points

  • Those most at risk of low pay are female, young, doing part-time/temporary/casual work, and working in the private sector.
  • Women are more likely to be low paid than men – 27 per cent compared with 16 per cent. Younger workers are at the most severe risk, with 79 per cent of those under 20 in low pay. Temporary and casual workers are more likely to be low paid than permanent employees (36 per cent as against 20 per cent). 27 per cent of people in the private sector are low paid, compared with 9 per cent in the public sector.
  • Wales is the region where low pay is most prevalent – accounting for 26 per cent of all workers. By contrast, in the south east of England just 19 per cent are low paid.
  • A significant minority of workers remain trapped in low-paid work over the course of their lives. Around one in seven of those aged between 31 and 50 – a time when many can expect to be at their ‘peak earnings’ – are low paid.
  • For men there has been a steady increase in low-paid work since the 1960s. For women, a positive trend away from low pay in the 1970s has been reversed over more recent decades.

Source: Matthew Pennycook and Matthew Whittaker, Low Pay Britain 2012, Resolution Foundation
Links: Report | Resolution press release

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