How public sector wages fell in real terms – in charts | Public Services Policy
Teachers, doctors, nurses, police officers and civil servants are among public sector workers set to get pay rises below inflation this year, with unions warning that staff will quit as the coronavirus crisis erupts. cost of living will be felt.
Guardian analysis of Office for National Statistics data shows that public sector incomes have fallen in real terms by 4.3% since the financial crisis, with some professions seeing declines of up to 13%.
In 2009, the median gross weekly wage for public sector workers was £539 – or £695 when adjusted for inflation. This is the highest level recorded in the data since 1997.
By 2021, however, it had fallen to £664. This represents a decade of stagnant earnings for public sector workers.
Private sector median weekly earnings also fell over this period, but at a lower rate of 1.9%, from an inflation-adjusted £598 in 2009 to £586 in 2021.
The years 2014 and 2018 were public sector pay lows, when median earnings fell to £646 a week, the lowest level since 2003. The latest data shows it has barely risen from this level in 2021.
While average weekly earnings fell across the public sector, some public jobs suffered bigger cuts in real terms.
Police officers have seen a reduction in real terms of 13% since 2009, from an inflation-adjusted £931 in 2009 to £809 in 2021, according to ONS data.
Prison officers and primary education professionals also saw their incomes drop significantly in real terms, by 10.4% and 11.8% respectively.
Civil servants and train drivers have enjoyed the largest pay increases of the 12 professions analyzed by the Guardian, with increases in real terms of 14.1% and 12.2% since 2009 respectively.
The biggest shock to earnings from these public jobs came after the 2008 financial crisis. Between 2010 and 2011, the 12 professions analyzed by the Guardian saw their median weekly wages fall in real terms. Social workers and civil servants were the hardest hit, with declines of 6.7%.
But this decline in income continued for several years for some of the occupations analyzed. Nurses, for example, saw their weekly earnings decline in real terms for each year between 2010 and 2015. This contributed to a 5.3% decline in real terms in their weekly earnings since 2009.
In 2020, the incomes of postal workers, prison service staff and train drivers suffered significant shocks, although some of these declines were explained by the increases recorded in 2021.