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- UK in longest pay squeeze since Napoleonic era
- Household debt is rising as workers continue to feel squeeze to wages

TUC analysis shows that the average worker in the South West is still earning £19 less per week in real terms than they did in 2008.

The average 4.4% shortfall takes into account the rise in inflation meaning average wages for many have not caught up since the financial crash eleven years ago.

By contrast, weekly wages in the South West grew by £90 a week (25%) in the previous decade 1997-2008.

Not since the start of the nineteenth century has it taken so long for real wages to recover from a slump.

The impact of the pay squeeze has seen real hardship for those on low pay and household debt has soared as families struggle to make ends meet.

UK unsecured household debt rose to £15,880 in the first quarter of 2019, up £1,160 on the previous year, and higher than before the financial crash in 2008.

Torbay remains the poorest earners in the country and the region - with average weekly pay at £354.30 a week.

Cornwall continues to be the poor relation of the South West lagging not too far behind.

And workers in North Somerset have lost the most cash - a whopping £103 less per week since 2008. 

TUC Regional Secretary of the South West, Nigel Costley said: 

“Working class families will know only too well the struggle to pay the bills on poor pay.

“We need an economy that delivers for working families. But pay packets are still worth less than a decade ago.

“It’s not right that household debt is rising. And that kids in this region are growing up in poverty despite having parents in work.

“The government has failed to deal with Britain’s cost of living crisis.”

The TUC is calling for:

  • New rights so that workers can access the protection of a union in every workplace.
  • New rights for workers to bargain through their unions for fair pay and conditions across industries, ending the race to the bottom.
  • A £10 minimum wage as soon as possible
Editors note

- Data represents the changes to real average weekly earnings from 2008 to 2019 

- The calculations are based on median weekly earnings, excluding overtime for all employees from Office of National Statistics, Table 7 ASHE 2019 provisional dataset.

- An adjustment has been made for the change of industrial classification from 2011. Prices effects are removed using the CPI measure of annual inflation for April of each year through to April 2019. CPI was the government’s preferred measure of inflation until 2018 and is preferable to CPIH when looking at earlier years, because the treatment of housing costs in CPIH changed significantly in 2014.  

- Dataset for each local authority 2008 - 2019 

2019 name

% change since 2008

£ change since 2008

South West

-4.4

-19.39

Bath and North East Somerset

-3.5

-15.90

Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole1

-1.5

-6.80

Bristol, City of

-0.6

-3.22

North Somerset

-20.4

-103.69

Plymouth

-9.3

-43.51

South Gloucestershire

-12.9

-65.58

Swindon

-7.0

-35.70

Torbay

-4.6

-17.18

Cornwall

-0.9

-3.28

Isles of Scilly

x

x

Devon

-1.3

-5.01

East Devon

-2.5

-10.10

Exeter

4.5

19.97

Mid Devon

-13.8

-57.38

North Devon

4.0

14.72

South Hams

-5.9

-23.59

Teignbridge

-4.0

-15.52

Torridge

22.5

69.97

West Devon

-7.5

-24.39

Dorset3

-3.1

-12.78

Gloucestershire

-5.8

-27.57

Cheltenham

-3.9

-18.88

Cotswold

-4.2

-16.85

Forest of Dean

-4.7

-18.51

Gloucester

-10.1

-49.55

Stroud

-6.3

-30.67

Tewkesbury

1.0

5.35

Somerset

-1.7

-7.33

Mendip

0.1

0.29

Sedgemoor

-1.3

-4.92

South Somerset

1.8

8.03

Somerset West and Taunton2

-4.1

-17.36

Wiltshire

-8.8

-40.02