Pay, Work and Poverty in Wales: The facts that all Welsh voters need to know

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A general election gives us the opportunity to take stock and ask some basic questions. Am I doing better than the last time I voted? What about my family and friends? Or my local community?

So, ahead of polling day on 12 December, we’ve pulled together some of the key facts and figures about work, pay and poverty in Wales. This is stuff that all voters should know.

  • Average wages in Wales are – incredibly - still lower today than they were before the 2008 financial crash. This is the slowest pay recovery for 200 years. This ‘lost decade’ in pay growth is sometimes passed off as some kind of natural fact – as if the UK Government couldn’t have done anything about it. This isn’t true. We know it’s not true because plenty of other countries have kept wages rising. Stagnant wages are a policy failure.      
  • Nearly a quarter of all workers in Wales are being paid below the Real Living Wage rate. In some Welsh constituencies that number is 1 in 3. The difference between the Real Living Wage and the UK Government’s ‘Living Wage’ is that the Real Living Wages is based on what people actually need to get by.
  • The number of employees on zero-hours contracts in Wales has jumped by 35% in the past year to 50,000 – the highest ever total. It’s just one sign that insecure work is rocketing.
  • 29% of children of Welsh children are being brought up in poverty. And work is no longer the guaranteed route out of poverty that it once was. Two thirds of children in poverty in Wales live in households where at least one adult is in a paid job.
  • 19,000 employees in Wales are being paid below the legal minimum wageThis problem is worse now than it was in 2010.
  • The gender pay gap persists. Men in Wales are paid 11% more than women. 
  • 50,000 working-age adults are in poverty despite living in households where all adults are working. 

The data is damning. A decade of austerity and assaults on workers’ rights has seen pay and working conditions for ordinary people in Wales go backwards.

Voters have a chance to pass judgement on that record next week.