The wages of 10 million low-paid workers have stalled for two decades and face pressure for a decade to come, according to a bleak assessment of Britain’s future jobs market by the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) thinktank. It is on the political right and chaired by the former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith.
Global economic competition, automation, the shift to the gig economy and a widening regional divide will see further pressure placed on the incomes of those earning between £10,000 and £15,000, it warns. It also blamed a chronic national failure to boost skills and education. The current evidence shows that most never escape a life on low pay with automation expected to place further pressure on jobs in some low-paid sectors unless new skills and opportunities are developed.
20% of Britain’s 33 million workers earn £15,000 a year or less, and that 50% earn no more than £23,200. Only 10% of employees, or about 3 million people, earn above £53,000 a year. Half the people employed in so-called elementary occupations, such as bar staff, clerks, care workers and labourers, are on low pay, as defined by two-thirds of the median income of £25,000 a year.
Britain does not compare well with other developed nations when it comes to low pay, it states. Taking data from manufacturing, and giving the US a score of 100, Switzerland topped the table with a pay rate of 155, followed by Norway on 126, Germany on 111 and France on 97. However, the UK was much further behind, on 73.
"There are more people in work than at any time on record, driven partially by a growth in the number of women entering the workforce, the increase in the number of people working part-time, people working far longer into old age, and a large influx of workers from abroad. This far more diverse workforce is increasingly employed in the service sector, as manufacturing has continued to cut the number of workers, and mobility between low-paid, low-skilled jobs, and high-paid, high-skilled jobs seems to be decreasing.”