4 in 5 jobs created since 2010 in low-paid industries

Almost 80 per cent of net job creation since June 2010 has taken place in industries where the average wage is less than ?7.95 an hour, according to TUC research. Of a 598,000 net rise in employee jobs across high and low paid sectors, 77 per cent are in low-paid industries, such as retail, waitressing and residential care.

Retail has made the biggest contribution to rising employment levels, with the number of employee jobs in this sector increasing by 234,000. The average wage in retail is just ?7.35 an hour. Residential care, where the average wage is ?7.78 per hour, makes the second biggest contribution of 155,000 jobs.

Only 23 per cent new employee jobs have been in the highly paid computer programming, consultancy and related services industry, where the average hourly wage is £18.40. The workforce in this sector has grown by 131,000.

In middle-paid industries, which account for nearly three-quarters of the UK workforce and where the average wage is between ?7.95 and £17.40 per hour, there has been no net job creation since June 2010. 

The government has frequently boasted about record employment levels – ignoring the fact that people’s job chances are still far lower today than they were before the recession. But recent concern lies in the fact that an overwhelming majority of new jobs have been created in low-paid sectors, with many workers having to take a big drop in their salaries and stall their careers in order to stay in work.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “One of the unreported struggles of recent years has been people being made redundant from middle-income jobs and having to take low-paid, low-skill jobs as it’s the only work available. Many people who are forced into low-paid work are not only having to take a massive financial hit, but are also having to put their careers on hold. This trading down of jobs can also push those with lower skills and less experience, particularly young people, out of work altogether. This is tough for workers and damaging for the wider economy.”

We need a proper industrial policy to support growth in key sectors from high value manufacturing and renewable energy, to the creative industries.

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