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The number of men working part time in low paid jobs has increased four fold in the last 20 years while women’s earnings have risen in the same period, according to a study by the Institute for Fiscal Studies.
Twenty years ago only one in 20 men aged 25 to 55 with low hourly wages worked part-time. Today one in five of this group work part-time, according to the study. This is the result of a steady trend – not just the recent recession, it says. Meanwhile the proportion of middle- and high- wage men working part-time remains extremely low, at less than one in 20.
The study says the combination of low hourly wages [and the fact that hourly wages of high-earners grew faster than those of middle-earners] and low hours of work has become an important driver of inequality in their pay.
The report says inequality in women’s weekly pay fell in the last 20 years because the proportion of women working part-time has fallen, especially among those with low hourly wages. Higher paid households’ earnings rose by 32% in the last 20 years compared to 2o% for lower paid households. However, inequality is generally lower than 20 years ago, mainly due to tax credits, rises in pensioner incomes and falling rates of household worklessness, but the very richest have seen their share of net total household income increase from 6% in 1994-95 to 8% in 2014-15.
Jonathan Cribb, an author of the report and a Senior Research Economist at IFS, said: “The number of low-wage men working part time has increased sharply over the last twenty years. To understand the drivers of inequality in the UK it is vital to understand the growing association between low hourly wages and low hours of work among men.”
Kate Smith, Head of Pensions at Aegon, said: “A surge in zero hour contracts and the gig economy means one in five in the workforce find themselves in non-standard jobs, which are often associated with low incomes and job insecurity. Today’s IFS statistics vividly demonstrates this trend, with the growth of males in low-paid part time work. This pattern means individuals are excluded from traditional work-based benefits, such as a workplace pension with employer pension contributions. A continuation of this will build up a pensions divide for the future, as workers increasingly fall outside the scope of auto-enrolment.
“The gig economy is one of the fastest growing employment sectors in the UK, and if the Uber employment tribunal judgement isn’t overturned, those working in it will in future be classed as employees, benefiting not only from greater employment rights, but also entitlement to an employer pension contribution. If workers’ rights don’t keep up with the growing trend towards self-employment, zero-hours and the gig economy and multiple low-paid jobs, the UK risks a growing schism between the pensioned and unpensioned, leaving many people with little income to live on when they come to retire.”