Downturn Hits Wages in 86% of Professions; 277 OUT OF 322 OCCUPATIONS NOW PAY LESS THAN FOUR YEARS AGO

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Byline: GRAHAM HENRY

WAGES for more than 86% of occupations have declined in real terms over the past four years, new figures have revealed.

Research by the GMB union show that 277 out of 322 occupations have suffered a drop in living standards by 5.9% in the economic downturn.

The union blamed the "bankers' recession" and the stalled recovery - and slammed Chancellor George Osborne as having the "economic literacy of a stick of rhubarb".

The research shows that 11 occupations saw a fall in living standards of more than 25%, another 10 register a fall of 20%-25% and 16 saw a decline of 15%-20%.

Professions which saw their living standards drop by more than a quarter since the recession included chartered surveyors, collector salespeople and credit agents, as well as dancers and choreographers, driving instructors and legal associates. But it is leisure and travel service workers who suffered most, losing a staggering 69% of their average income in real terms since April 2007. Paul Kenny, general secretary of the GMB, said: "George Osborne has the economic literacy of a stick of rhubarb. Full time workers in 277 occupations have seen the value of their earnings drop when they have a job.

"Things have got a lot worse in the past year as the recovery underway at the time of the election stalled and the UK is mired in a new recession."

With two-thirds of the economy being consumer-driven, he said Government plans would mean a reduction in real private consumption of 4% and GDP of 3.4% in coming years.

It comes after similar GMB figures revealed that Wales had seen a 6.7% drop in living standards from April 2007 to November this year.

Conwysaw the biggest drop in the real value of average gross earnings, falling 15.8%. Only three local authority areas in Wales (Pembrokeshire, Merthyr Tydfil and Denbighshire) kept pace with inflation, according to the figures.

The TUC has already claimed that a typical family could see their living standards fall by more than pounds 4,600 a year by 2013 because of public service cuts, benefit changes and below-inflation pay rises.

But a Treasury spokesman said the UK economy was "not immune" from what was happening in the global economy.

He said: "In their latest forecast, the independent OBR made it clear that the spike in inflation seen over the past year is largely the result of unexpected rises in energy and global agricultural commodity prices. "Forecasters expect inflation to fall over the coming year, and the Government is doing its bit to help families by freezing council tax [in England] and cutting fuel duty at the autumn statement last month. …