Low paid workers top 5 million

29th October 2014

The number of low paid workers in Britain is at an all-time high with more long-term low paid workers than ever, warns the Resolution Foundation.


In a new report, the thinktank said the numbers earning less than two thirds of median hourly pay – equivalent to £7.69 an hour – increased by 250,000 last year to reach 5.2 million.


The increase partly reflected growth in employment, but there was also a reverse in the previous year’s slight fall in low-paid work.


The report said there was a serious problem of people being stuck in low-paid jobs, with almost one in four minimum wage employees still on that rate for the last five years. 


As reported in The Guardian, the thinktank’s chief economist said Matthew Whittaker, said: “While recent months have brought much welcome news on the number of people moving into employment, the squeeze on real earnings continues. While low pay is likely to be better than no pay at all, it’s troubling that the number of low-paid workers across Britain reached a record high last year.


“Being low paid – and getting stuck there for years on end – creates not only immediate financial pressures, but can permanently affect people’s career prospects. A growing rump of low-paid jobs also presents a financial headache for the government because it fails to boost the tax take and raises the benefits bill for working people.


“All political parties have expressed an ambition to tackle low pay. Yet the proportion of low-paid workers has barely moved in the last 20 years. A focus on raising the minimum wage can certainly help the very lowest paid workers in Britain, but we need a broader low-pay strategy in order to lift larger numbers out of working poverty.


“Economic growth alone won’t solve our low-pay problem. We need to look more closely at the kind of jobs being created, the industries that are growing and the ability of people to move from one job or sector to the other, if we’re really going to get to grips with low pay in Britain today.”