15 May 2018

The only good news from the TUC in its latest analysis of wages is that things were even worse in Lord Nelson’s day.

The 24-year period of real wage decline between 1798 and 1822 is the longest in the last two centuries but, assuming the current squeeze on real wages, which began in 2008, does not end until 2025, as forecast, then this will be the second longest.

Even during the Great Depression era (10 years) and revival from the Second World War (seven years), the TUC points out, real wages recovered more quickly.

It estimates that, as a result of pay not keeping pace with the cost of living, by 2025 the average worker will have lost out on around £18,500 in real earnings. Real wages increased by 27% in the decade before the financial crisis (1998 to 2008). However, in the decade since (2008-18) they have fallen by 4%.

This means that real wages are still worth £24 a week less than in 2008.

Figures are based on the annual Average Weekly Earnings for total pay (including bonuses) adjusted with CPI. These figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) are compared with long-run back data published by the Bank of England.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “This means families are struggling to get by. Millions of kids are growing up in poverty despite having parents in work. Mums and dads are skipping meals and turning to dodgy lenders to make ends meet.”