of interest in a minimum wage by publishing a special regional
analysis of the proportion of employees earning below specific pay
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
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
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
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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
-- 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
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
-- 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