Blog & Articles

These wage stats don't tell us much about living standards

Date: 24. January 2014
James Plunkett

This morning the government released some interesting new stats on wages. It claims that 90 per cent of people saw their earnings rise in the year to April 2013. As I tweeted earlier this week, the data source that the government are using tells a more positive story about wages than the more regular earnings data that drives most public debate. Here are some quick thoughts on the more technical upsides and downsides of the new numbers.

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Starting out or getting stuck?: An analysis of who gets trapped in low paid work – and who escapes

Date: 2. December 2013
Alex Hurrell

It is generally acknowledged that the UK has a serious low pay problem. One in five employees were low paid in 2012, which compares poorly to other similar economies. But little is known about the persistence of low pay and consequently this is an under-developed aspect of the social mobility debate. This matters because many argue that, yes, there is a lot of low paid work but it overwhelmingly afflicts young people before they go onto earn more. But this view doesn’t tally with the fact that in fact many of Britain’s low paid workers are not young: almost half (47 per cent) are aged between 31 and 60.

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We're solving the pay gap - the wrong way

Date: 30. July 2012
Gavin Kelly

This post originally appeared on Gavin's New Statesman blog

One of the longest-running campaigns in modern British politics is that for equal pay. As many have pointed out it's over 40 years since the Equal Pay Act yet the gender gap still persists. The good news is progress - even if it is all too slow - is being made. The bad news is that the reason that progress is being made is due to male wages stagnating.

But first, let's pause on what we mean by the "gap". Typically the headline measure used (favoured by the ONS) is that between full-time male and female median pay - that is, typical full time wages (others argue that the "mean" wage should be used as this captures big gender inequalities at the top of the earnings spectrum). But any headline figure cloaks the reality that if you segment the jobs market by age, occupation, or income a different story emerges about pay inequality.

 

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