A report from the International Labour Organisation (ILO) found that the bottom 50% of workers receive just 6% of global total pay.
Pay equality remains a significant issue according to findings from the ILO. Their recent dataset showed that the top 10% of earners receive more than 48.9% of global pay with the bottom 50% receiving just 6.4%. The figure gets even starker when we examine the bottom 20% of earners who take home less than 1% of the total pay on offer. This figure has remained largely unchanged for 13 years.
The Labour Income Share and Distribution dataset is developed by the ILO Department of Statistics. It contains income data from across 189 countries, drawing from the largest pool of harmonised labour force survey data. It examines the data that drives workforce trends at national, regional and global levels. The latest data looked at figures from 2004 to 2017.
Top earners have continued to enjoy an increase in pay with slumps for middle and low-income workers. The middle 60% of workers saw a reduction in pay across the period, declining from just under 50% to 43%. This was in opposition to the top 20% who saw their share increase from 51.3% to 53.5%.
Steven Kapsos, Head of the ILO’s Data Production and Analysis Unit, commented on the findings, “The data shows, that in relative terms, increases in the top labour incomes are associated with losses for everyone else, with both middle class and lower-income workers seeing their share of income decline.”
While pay inequality remains a significant problem globally, the figures actually show an overall reduction of inequality based on previous years. This is down to rapidly expanding markets in India and China.
The countries who experience the worst pay inequality lie largely in north-western Africa and include: Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, Niger, and Uganda. However, high-income countries like the UK, US, and Germany, also followed the wider trend, showing reductions in earnings for middle and lower-middle class workers alongside significant gains for top earners.
The average pay for the poorest half of the world’s workforce is just $198 per month, a scenario which is unlikely to support the future of an increasingly globalised workforce. These findings are being used by the ILO to make key recommendations and to monitor progress towards the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).