Record pay for bankers but most workers still earning less than a decade ago – TUC

• Real wages in the finance sector grew £120 a week, but the average worker is still £17 a week worse off

• Nurses and teachers amongst hardest hit • New rights needed to give people a voice at work on pay and conditions, says TUC

New analysis published by the TUC today (Tuesday) shows that real wages are still £17 a week lower than a decade ago. But they are up more than £120 for those working in the finance sector.

Bankers doing best

In most sectors of the economy wages are still worth less than before the financial crisis. However, a small number of industries have bucked that trend.

Average real pay in the financial sector has increased by 9.3% (£119 per week) since 2009 reaching a record average of £1,405 per week.

Other sectors that have seen real wage growth include, retail and hospitality, which are likely to have been boosted by increases to the minimum wage.

Nurses and teachers amongst hardest hit

While pay has recovered for bankers, the story is very different for public sector workers.

People employed in health and social work and education are still £36 a week worse off than in 2009.

The TUC says this is a clear consequence of the government’s decision to hold back the pay of hardworking teachers, nurses and other public servants behind rising prices.

The hardest hit workers are those working for membership organisations, repair services and in furnishings. Their pay £86 per week lower in real terms than a decade ago.  

The next worse performing sector is manufacturing of food and drink, where real pay is still down by £52 per week.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

“It’s not right that pay is racing ahead in the City when most working people are still worse off than a decade ago.

“The architects of the financial crisis are earning record amounts while teachers and nurses struggle to get by.

“Workers deserve a much fairer share of the wealth they create.  That’s why unions need new rights to access workplaces and negotiate industry-wide rates.

“Pay inequality helped drive the last financial crash. It can’t be left unaddressed.” Editors note

Weekly pay by industrial sector (£), 2009 to 2019 (prices = 2018)

Industrial sector Dec 2008
– Feb 2009
Dec 2018
– Feb 2019
% change £ change
Financial & Insurance Activities 1286 1405 9.3 119
Arts, Entertainment and Recreation 373 398 6.7 25
Manufacturing: Chemicals, man-made fibres 732 772 5.5 40
Retail Trade and Repairs 317 331 4.3 14
Administrative & Support Service Activities 419 435 4.0 17
Manufacturing: Engineering & Allied Industries 688 703 2.1 14
Transport and Storage 599 608 1.5 9
Accommodation & Food Service Activities 254 256 0.9 2
Information and Communication 870 876 0.6 5
Manufacturing: Textile, Leather & Clothing 439 439 0.0 0
Real Estate Activities 531 522 -1.6 -9
Wholesale Trade 636 618 -2.8 -18
Mining and Quarrying 1276 1240 -2.9 -36
Other Manufacturing 558 541 -3.0 -17
Electricity, Gas and Water Supply 720 696 -3.4 -25
Manufacturing: Metals & Metal Products 608 585 -3.7 -23
Construction 656 630 -4.0 -26
Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing 430 405 -5.9 -25
Professional, Scientific & Technical 772 724 -6.3 -48
Education 485 448 -7.5 -36
Health and Social Work 478 441 -7.6 -36
Public Administration 640 583 -8.9 -57
Manufacturing: Food, Beverage & Tobacco 571 519 -9.1 -52
Other Service Activities
(incl. membership organisations, repair services)
472 386 -18.2 -86

Methodology: The TUC analysis compared quarterly figures from the Office for National Statistics’ Labour Force Survey for December 2008-February 2009 and December 2018-February 2019 (EARN03 ‘average weekly earnings by industry’). Figures are adjusted for inflation using CPI for 2019Q1. Figures include bonuses and arrears. The source data is here:

Average pay: The figure of -£17 for the change in the average wage across the whole economy from Dec08-Feb09 to Dec18-Feb19 is derived from ONS data for the whole economy in EARN02, which gives non-seasonally adjusted figures. This provides a more accurate comparison with the figures in EARN03, which are also non-seasonally adjusted. This figure also includes bonuses and arrears, so differs from the monthly figure for regular pay issued by the ONS.

–  Fairer pay for all workers: To achieve fair pay for all working people, the TUC is calling for:

  • A £10 an hour national minimum wage and an end to discrimination against young workers through lower rates of minimum wage
  • Workers to be elected onto remuneration committees to help curb greed at the top
  • Legal requirements on employers to report on and act to close race, gender and disability pay gaps
  • New employment rights for insecure workers, including a ban on zero-hours contracts and bogus self-employment
  • Full employment rights from day one for all workers, including protection from unfair dismissal

A stronger voice at work: To ensure everyone has fair treatment at work and can negotiate fair pay and conditions, the TUC is calling for:

  • New rights to give unions access to every workplace so that nobody has to face their employer alone
  • New rights for unions to bargain for fair pay and conditions across industries, ending the race to the bottom
  • An end to the unfair and undemocratic trade union act that restricts the right to strike

About the TUC: The Trades Union Congress (TUC) exists to make the working world a better place for everyone. We bring together more than 5.5 million working people who make up our 49 member unions. We support unions to grow and thrive, and we stand up for everyone who works for a living.