Jobs paying below the Living Wage have proliferated around the country
According to new data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the proportion of jobs outside London paying less than the Living Wage has increased to almost one-in-four. Jobs paying below the Living Wage have proliferated around the country.
Between April 2008 and April 2010, the proportion of jobs paid less than the Living Wage in London remained stable at around 13 per cent, but it had risen to 19 per cent by April 2014.
There are only three years of estimates available for the rest of the UK, but the ONS says that the proportion of employee jobs paid less than the Living Wage rose from 21 per cent in April 2012 to 23 per cent in April 2014.
Northern Ireland had the highest proportion of jobs paying less than the Living Wage at 29 per cent. In the South-East of England, London and Scotland, 19 per cent of jobs paid less than the Living Wage.
Across the UK in 2014, there were about 6 million jobs paying less than the Living Wage, of which over half were part-time jobs. Some industries stand out. For example, in accommodation and food services in 2014, an estimated 65 per cent of employee jobs paid less than the Living Wage in London and 70 per cent in the rest of the UK.
55 per cent of London retail jobs paid less than the Living Wage, and 59 per cent of retail jobs in the rest of the UK. Other industries also have high proportions of jobs paying below the Living Wage – for example, administrative and support services, arts, entertainment and recreation, and agriculture, forestry and fishing all had over one-third of jobs paying below the Living Wage in 2014.
Although there have been increases in both men and women earning below the Living Wage, the increases have been greater for female than for male jobs.
In 2014, the gap between the proportion of male and female jobs below the Living Wage was 6 percentage points in London and 11 percentage points in the rest of the UK.
This works out as 3.6 million female employee jobs below the living wage in the UK in 2014, compared with 2.3 million male employee jobs.
The Conservative government has repeatedly claimed that it will ‘make work pay’, as it tries to brand itself as the new party of working people. The soaring number of people being paid below the hourly rate necessary to meet basic living standards is difficult to square with this claim.
Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC, commented on the figures:
“The government’s Trade Union Bill will make it even harder for people to get fair wages. It will shift the balance of power in the workplace towards employers, making it harder to bring poverty-pay bosses to the negotiating table.
“If the government really wanted to deliver fairer pay it would be working with trade unions not against them.”
Ruby Stockham is a staff writer at Left Foot ForwardLike this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.