Thursday, 10 November 2005

UK wages

A friend and me disagreed last night over a pint in the Rose and Crown about what had happened to wages during the period of the Evil Thatch and subsequently. Statistics.gov.uk is the place to look. The old New Earnings Survey has been replaced by something called the Annual Survey on Hours and Earnings. There's a nice summary of the Evil Blair period here:

Patterns of Pay 1998-2004

In particular, check out Figure 7 - Blogger seems to mess up the title:
This shows that the wages of even the lowest decile beat inflation consistently. Some credit due to New Labour? (But note that this is only for full-time employees. The pdf above has more details on the distribution of hours.)

The NES doesn't seem to have a similar time series available, but here is a useful webpage on historical average earnings. Clicking the link will show you real and nominal earnings, as well as the RPI, for 1979-2004. Really, we would prefer median earnings - they explain how they calculate average earnings but it seems complex, perhaps because they provide statistics going back to 1264!

That's all I can manage for the moment. Clearly average wages have consistently increased since 1979. The more interesting question is what has happened to the different percentiles.