Workers suffer ‘real earnings loss of a fifth’

ONE of the UK’s biggest trade unions has claimed that full time workers in Bedfordshire have suffered the worst drop in living standards and biggest loss of earnings in the region as a result of the recession.

According to the GMB union, full time workers living in Bedfordshire have seen their average gross earnings drop by more than a fifth between April 2007 and last month.

The average county wage dropped from more than £35,000 in 2007 to Just over £33,200 a year in 2011.

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Analysis carried out by the union estimates that living standards across the eastern region have declined by more than seven per cent.

Thurrock’s full time workers suffered the next worst fall in living standards in the region with a drop of 11.6 per cent, followed by Suffolk with a drop of 8.8 per cent and Cambridgeshire with a drop of 8.7 per cent.

Workers in Luton suffered a loss of nearly 5 per cent in terms of real earnings despite the average wage climbing from £24,905 to £27,506.

The fall for the UK as a whole is 5.9 per cent and for England is 6.2 per cent during the same period. Bedfordshire suffered the third worst earnings loss in the UK according to the figures.

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In the analysis, GMB looked at the figure for annual average gross earnings of full time workers in each area from official ASHE data for April 2007 from the Office for National Statistics before the recession kicked in.

This figure is compared with the figure for annual average gross earnings for the same area from ASHE for April 2011. The changes shown in annual average earnings between these two periods, plus an uprating for wage increases to September 2011, are measured against inflation over the same period to calculate the real change in the value of these earnings.

Paul Hayes, GMB regional secretary for the East, said: “Full time workers in Bedfordshire, Thurrock, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Essex, Luton, Southend-on-Sea, Peterborough and Norfolk 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 region is mired in a new recession.”