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The Resolution Foundation Earnings Outlook

A look beyond the headline data on the forces behind current developments in pay, how the fruits are shared, and the short- and longer-term drivers of earnings growth

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What's happened:

The earnings breakdown

Median employee earnings

In the most recent data, real median hourly pay grew by 4.1%. Pay growth picked up in the second half of 2020, largely due to compositional factors.

All worker average earnings

Our all worker earnings measure is based on pre-pandemic data, so the falling gap does not reflect changes in self-employment earnings since the crisis.

Earnings decomposition

Pay growth was 1.7 ppts higher as a result of compositional effects. This Outlook's spotlight explores underlying pay growth in more detail.

Pay rises

Median year-on-year real hourly pay growth for employees in work over a year (both job stayers and changers) stood at 2.2% in Q3 2020, 0.5 ppts lower than the previous year.

Earnings inequality

Our headline measures of earnings inequality continue to fall, but low paid workers have been more likely to face reductions to hours and pay or to have lost work.

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What’s around the corner:

Pay pressures and slack

Unemployment by duration

The unemployment rate rose to 5.1% in the latest data, and there are signs that long-term unemployment is starting to increase.

Underemployment

Under-employment has risen significantly in the crisis, likely due to employers making hours reductions in the face of weak demand and supply constraints.

Job-to-job moves

The proportion of workers voluntarily moving job (an indicator of worker confidence) was 30 per cent down on the previous year. This will have a negative effect on pay growth, though job-to-job moves are up on

Migrant job entry

The proportion of jobs going to new migrants has fallen by 16 per cent over the past year.

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What’s in the pipeline:

Long-term labour market health & efficiency

Workforce participation

The labour force participation rate of 18-69-year-olds reached 76.8% in Q4 2020, but the crisis has caused recent growth to plateau.

Labour productivity

Hourly productivity rose sharply in Q3 2020, possibly for compositional reasons (people in lower-productivity sectors losing their jobs), but fell back in Q4 2020.

Training intensity

The long-term trend in falling ‘off-the-job’ training has flattened out, but the proportion of workers receiving such training remains low – a potential drag on productivity.

Graduates in non-graduate roles

The proportion of graduates in non-graduate roles (a measure of mismatched demand and supply of skills) has fallen over the past year, and stands at 35.0%.

PDF Briefing

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RF’s quarterly earnings outlook four page briefing paper.

Read past briefings

All Data Spreadsheet

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