What are the worst sectors for low pay?

This article is 74 months old


New figures reveal the scale of in-work poverty and which industries are hit the hardest.  

Over half of people in poverty are now in working households – showing work is no longer a route out of poverty.

The rise of the gig economy and pay freezes as well as high rents and the rising cost of living are pulling people who were already struggling to get by into a financial crisis.

But what are the worst sectors for low pay?

  • 59% of hospitality workers are low paid
  • 46% of retail workers are low paid
  • 38% of agriculture, forestry and fishing workers are low paid
  • 31% of care workers are low paid
  • 31% of textile and clothing workers are low paid
  • 30% of arts and entertainment workers are low paid
  • 29% of administrative workers are low paid
  • 29% of food processing workers are low paid
  • 25% of motor vehicle sale and repair workers are low paid.

According to a Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) briefing, over half of workers in hospitality are low paid and just under half of workers in retail are low paid. The high incidence of low pay in these jobs means that these two sectors alone account for around a third of workers in poverty.

The Government defines low pay as any family earning less than 60% of the national median pay – which is currently £494 a week, or £25,688 a year.

However the JRF has also taken into account the actual cost of living with their definition. Their Minimum Income Standard shows that a single person needs £17,900 a year, a lone parent needs £25,900 a year, and a family of four need £40,800 a year.

Pritie Billimoria, Head of Communications at Turn2us, said: “The nature of poverty is changing in front of us as more and more working people are being swept into poverty.

“Too many people are working but still finding they simply cannot make ends meet. People are skipping meals so that they can afford the bus fare to work or falling behind on utility bills so that they can keep a roof over their family’s head.

“Work needs to pay so people are not being trapped by the daily struggle of life which has significant emotional effects on mental health and family life.”

If you are in-work but on a low income, visit our In work - on a low income information page.