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The Office for National Statistics today responds to the current wave ...
The Office for National Statistics today responds to the current wave

of interest in a minimum wage by publishing a special regional

analysis of the proportion of employees earning below specific pay


The figures, in today's edition of Labour Market Trends*, will be a

useful tool in assessing the number of employees who might be

affected by a minimum wage, were it to be set at any one of five

levels:£2.50 an hour,£3 an hour.£3.50 an hour£4 an hour or£4.42

an hour.

The information, although derived from the 1996 New Earnings Survey,

has not been published before. The pay levels chosen for analysis

replicate those pay bands most frequently asked about by MPs in

Parliamentary Questions.

Trade unions often quote the level of£4.42 per hour (half of male

median earnings) in the context of a minimum wage.

This report, Distribution of hourly earnings, shows around one per

cent of full-time employees earned less than£2.50 per hour in 1996.

Wales had the highest proportion of full-time employees earning below

£2.50 (1.1 per cent) and London the lowest (0.5 per cent).

Scotland at 5.5 per cent had a higher proportion of part-time

employees earning less than£2.50 an hour than the rest of Great


Regional disparities show just 3.3 per cent of full-time employees in

London earned less than£4 an hour in 1996, compared to 11.3 per cent

in Wales (the highest proportion regionally).

*Labour Market Trends (incorporating Employment Gazette) Volume 105

No. 9

For subscriptions and sales telephone 0171-873 8499

FAX 0171-873 8222

The parliamentary constituency with the highest proportion of

full-time employees earning less than£4 an hour was St Ives at 31.3

per cent, contrasting with Bexleyheath, Fulham and Islington North

constituencies where there were no employees reported as earning less

than this amount.

About two-fifths of part-time employees earned less than£4 an hour,

although the proportion in London was less than half this at 18.7 per


The biggest proportion of part-time employees earning below£4 per

hour were in the North East with nearly one in two workers (48 per

cent) earning under this amount.

Most other regions had broadly similar proportions of both full and

part time employees earning under£4 an hour, with the exception of

the South East and Eastern region where proportions were smaller.

Also in this month's LMT is an article examining economic inactivity

since 1984 at both the individual and household level.

Findings in Workless households, unemployment and economic inactivity

show that:

-- In spring 1996, just under 20 per cent of working-age households

were without a worker in employment.

-- Between 1984 and 1991, the proportion of working age households

with nobody in employment remained roughly constant at around 16 per


-- In 1984, 13 per cent of workless households consisted of one adult

with children under 16; by 1996 this had risen to 22 per cent.

-- 75 per cent of single-adult households with the youngest child

under five were workless in 1996, compared with 50 per cent of single

adult households with the youngest child aged 5 - 15.

-- There were 7.5 million economically inactive working-age people in

spring 1996 - 22 per cent of the working-age population.

Almost two thirds were women.

-- Between 1984 and 1996 economic inactivity remained at just over a

fifth in Great Britain.

Different definitions of working-age households are examined in a

separate article, Economic activity of working-age households, which

recommends that the standard definition of working-age households

includes all households that contain at least one person of working

age. Further analysis of economic activity at the household level

also shows, for example, that more than half of all working-age

households have all adults in employment, while one in ten contain at

least one person who is ILO unemployed* (See Background Note 1.)

Temporary workers in Great Britain sheds light on the fact that

temporary work - which includes seasonal work, casual work, non

permanent jobs obtained through a temporary employment agency

('agency temps') and jobs carried out under a fixed-term contract

- has increased from 5.5 per cent of employees in the mid to late

1980s to more than seven per cent today.

Based on spring 1996 Labour Force Survey information, this article

examines the type of temporary work undertaken and the people engaged

in these jobs.

The Government's approach to improving the labour market position of

disabled people is outlined in a feature on Registered disabled

people in the public sector which also shows that the 1,022 public

sector employers surveyed employed 26,850 registered disabled people

in 1996.

September's Labour Force Survey HELP-LINE examines four aspects of

the labour market this month illustrating that in winter 1996/7:

-- 1.5 million employees and self-employed were looking for a

different Job.

-- the proportion of heads of household who owned their own

accommodation was greatest for the group who were economically

inactive and most of these owners were over 50 years old.

-- for most ethnic groups, those born in the UK were more active in

the labour market than those born abroad.

-- for both men and women, occupations with the lowest proportion of

employees in a service industry were the craft and related

occupations and plant and machine operatives.


1. The ILO measure of unemployment is based on the internationally

recognised standard definition of unemployment recommended by the

International Labour Office, an agency of the United Nations. This

includes all those who were available to start work in the next

fortnight, who had actively looked for work in the last four weeks or

had found a job and were waiting to start.

2. Details of the policy governing the release of new data, including

a description of the release categories featured on the front page of

ONS releases, are available from the press office.

3. Crown copyright 1997. ONS First Releases and statistical new

releases are subject to Crown copyright protection. Data and text may

be reproduced without fee, provided use is for genuine news gathering

and distribution purposes. Headline figures and short extracts may

also be quoted in support of commentary or criticism. All other

reproduction (especially for commercial use) requires specific

copyright perrnission from the ONS and payment of reproduction fee,

or must be the subject of a commercial agreement that includes such


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