A quarter of Welsh employees earn less than the living wage, according to analysis conducted by IHS Markit for professional services firm KPMG.
This is above the UK average which showed that 22% of workers earned less than the living wage threshold of £8.75 an hour, up from 21% last year.
The UK area with the highest proportion of jobs paying below the threshold was Northern Ireland and East Midlands where the figure was at 26%. At the opposite end of the scale, the South East has the fewest number of people at 18%.
A closer look at the findings additionally shows that part-time workers are more than three times as likely to be paid below the Living Wage, with 43 per cent below the threshold compared to only 13 per cent of full-time workers.
Furthermore, the analysis reveals that nearly seven in ten workers aged between 18 and 21 earned below the threshold, compared to the lowest proportion of only 15 per cent among those aged 40 – 49. The prevalence of in-work poverty increased again once approaching retirement age, with a quarter (25%) of those 60+ facing in-work poverty.
Looking to gender equality, the proportion of female employees earning less than the real Living Wage (27 per cent) continues to exceed that for males (17 per cent). This means that nearly 60 per cent more women were paid below the real Living Wage, compared to men. Furthermore, in every age category, the proportion of females earning less than the threshold exceeded the percentage of males, with the greatest gap noted among those 50 – 59 years of age.
Simon Jones, Senior office partner for KPMG Cardiff, said:
“It is very disappointing to see that the number of people in the UK being paid below the living wage has increased over the last year, and that the figure in Wales currently stands above the national average.
“I am optimistic however that there is scope for change sooner rather than later. With the various city deals across Wales along with the Welsh Government’s Infrastructure plan, economic activity in the country will increase. This should in turn lead to improved pay and opportunities for work here.”
Commenting on the findings, Jenny Baskerville, director of social equality at KPMG UK, said:
“The latest real Living Wage analysis makes for very dire reading on all counts. While some progress was made last year, it’s clear that it has retreated and left more facing in-work poverty as a result, especially if you’re a part-time worker, under the age of 21 or over 60, female, living outside the South East, or any combination of these. In fact, the number of jobs paying below the real Living Wage has actually increased by 1.2million since 2012, hammering home the magnitude of this problem.
“It’s critical that we reward and value those making a contribution to our society and economy, and clearly such a sizeable challenge requires a collective approach. For businesses though, it’s vital to look beyond the bottom line, and instead focus on non-monetary aspects that the real Living Wage can bring, like improved staff morale, rising service standards or increased productivity.”