UNISONActive is an unofficial blog produced by UNISON activists for UNISON activists. Bringing news, briefings and events from a progressive left perspective.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

30 years of wage stagnation

Low and median incomes increased by just 27 and 56 per cent in the 30 years up to the recent recession, despite the UK economy more than doubling in size over the same period, according to a new TUC report published this week: http://www.tuc.org.uk/tucfiles/28/Britains_Livelihood_Crisis.pdf

Britain's Livelihood Crisis, the latest TUC touchstone pamphlet written by Stewart Lansley, shows that while the recession is often cited as the cause of today's tough income squeeze, a livelihood crisis has been brewing in Britain for three decades, held off only by an unsustainable rise in personal debt.

The pamphlet shows that wages have been falling sharply as a share of the national wealth since the mid-70s, while a rich minority have been taking an ever larger slice of the UK's dwindling earnings cake. The top 10 per cent of earners are the only group whose incomes have risen in line with GDP since 1978, seeing their pay increase almost twice as fast as median incomes, and nearly four times faster than the lowest 10 per cent of earners.

The embrace of market capitalism by successive governments - and the ensuing waves of downsizing, restructuring and short-termism that have accompanied it - has been the main catalyst for the Britain's current livelihood crisis, says the TUC.