The value of British workers wages has remained the same for over a decade now, according to statistics released by the Office for National Statistics.
The ONS identified that this reality has stemmed from a 5 year drop in real term wages between 2008 and 2013, which has meant that the actual value of workerís take home pay is the same now as it was back in 2002 after inflation has been taken into account.
The data is yet another clear sign that the complexion of worker wages is contributing significantly to the ongoing ëcost of living crisisí that the British public are experiencing at present, with wage rises at a slower rate than inflation during the past few years, severely reducing the spending power of households across the country.
Earlier this week, the Low Pay Commission, who plays a significant role in shaping government policy towards the minimum wage, recommended that the coalition raise it by 3%, or 19p, to £6.50 an hour. The Commissionís report suggested attaching future rises to the countryís economic performance, but did identify their concern about the effect instigating more substantial rises would have on the finances of small businesses.
The news has been met with a mixed response, with businesses and politicians praising the move as a financially viable and beneficial solution to helping worker wages pick up, and enabling businesses to foot the higher bill.
Incoming Trade Union Congress head Frances OíGrady also praised the move, but identified that it would have to be followed up with more frequent and substantial rises in the future in order to fully benefit the countryís lowest earners.
However, other union groups such as Unite Union have branded the raise a ëslap in the faceí of British workers, and have argued that it will do little to help workers whose wages are already being ësqueezedí to the brink by constant rises in their expenditure demands.
Meanwhile, gender inequality in wages was also shown to have continued by the ONS, who identified that the average male took home £556 each week during 2013, whilst women received a substantially less £459.
Lukewarm boost for youth
The ONSís data did illustrate a more positive trajectory in other areas of the Labour market, and in particular with the countryís youth, where the quantity of people aged between 16-24 who are not in education, employment or some form of apprenticeship fell to an almost 6 year low during the last quarter of 2013.
Moreover, the number of people taking on apprenticeships in labour orientated employment fell during the last quarter of 2013 to 1.04 million, down 38,000 from the previous quarter. The total percentage of young workers aged between 16 and 24 also fell to 14.4% from 14.9%, whilst just 7.6% of people aged between 16-18 were shown to have been involved in some form of labour force training.
Skills and enterprise minister, Mathew Hancock, outlined that the statistics represented that youth enrolment into the labour market (neets) is at its lowest point since records started, and praised the results as a testament to ìthe hard work being done to make sure young people have the skills and education to take part in the workforce”.
Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, argued that whilst the news of a drop in the number of neets was undeniably positive, that nevertheless the youth of today are struggling to get a foothold in the employment market at present.
“While any fall in the number of Neets is welcome, the fact that over a million young people aren’t in work or education shows we still have a huge youth jobs crisis,” she said.
“Government action to help young people should start in schools with full career guidance for pupils aged 12 and upwards. School-leavers deserve further support too, with a job guarantee for any young person out of work for at least six months. This would help tackle the long-term joblessness that can permanently damage young people’s careers before they have even started out in the world of work.”
The statistics also illustrated a huge gap in the weekly take home pay of the countryís top and bottom earners, whilst again displaying the recurring theme of gender inequality in business wage structures.
Men were shown to work longer hours than their female counterparts, with the average male estimated to spend 40.1 hours a week at work, compared to 37.4 with women. The ONS argued that this is due to men being less averse to working overtime hours, and some women shaving a substantial amount off their average time due to pregnancy related leave.
The ages between 40 and 49 were described by the ONSís data as the most financially fruitful in maleís career, whilst women peaked between 30 and 39.
The top 10% of earners in the UK acquired on average around £1050 each week, which is almost 4 times more than the lowest 10%, who earned around £250 each week.
And compellingly, public sector employees illustrated a higher average wage than those in the private, with their £574 median weekly income around £84 higher than workers in the private sector.