1 in 6 EU workers are low paid

As many as one in six employees in the European Union – 17 per cent of the total – were low paid in 2010, according to new statistics released by Eurostat. This proportion varied significantly between member states. There were also large differences between men and women, and according to levels of education and types of work contract.

 

Key points

  • The lowest incidence of low pay was observed in Sweden (2.5 per cent), and the highest in Latvia (27.8 per cent). The UK figure was 22.1 per cent, significantly above the average.
  • 21.2 per cent of female employees in the EU were low-wage earners, compared with 13.3 per cent of male employees. In nearly all member states there was a larger share of female employees who were low-wage earners than male.
  • 29 per cent of employees with a low education level (broadly GCSE level) were low-wage earners, compared with 19.3 per cent of those with a medium level and 5.8 per cent of those with a high (degree) level.
  • 31.3 per cent of employees with a contract of limited duration were low-wage earners, compared with 15.7 per cent of those with an indefinite contract. The UK had one of the largest proportions of low-wage earners among employees with a contract of limited duration, at 36.4 per cent.

Source: Press release 20 December 2012, Eurostat
LinkEurostat press release
Notes: Low-wage earners are defined by Eurostat as those earning two-thirds or less of the national median gross hourly earnings. For the UK in 2010 this was equivalent to £7.21 an hour.

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