Credit: William Warby/Flickr

Were men really hurt most by the financial crisis?

Men's hourly wage rates were hit hardest, but there's a bigger picture here.

by Jack Torrance
Last Updated: 30 Jan 2015

Many campaigners have portrayed the Coalition Government's austerity policies as disproportionately hurting women, but a report out today from the Institute of Fiscal Studies at first glance seems to come to a different conclusion. It found that real median hourly wages for women fell by 2.5% between 2008 and 2014, while men's wages fell by 7.3%. It explains that this is partly because women are disproportionately likely to work in the public sector, where wages have fallen less rapidly since the downturn.

This might seem to challenge the views of those who claim women are particularly hurt by the downturn. But there's a much bigger picture here. Firstly women started from a lower base – cutting a relatively large proportion of an already large wage arguably 'hurts' less than cutting a smaller proportion of a meagre pay packet.

Given the figure is for hourly pay, it also presumably doesn't take into account how much each gender has been affected by job losses and reduced hours. Indeed, the report acknowledges that the number of part-time workers who want but can't find more hours has doubled from pre-crisis levels.

The report on the whole makes depressing reading – no demographic group has been spared from the impact of falling pay. Young people have been particularly screwed – for those aged 22-29, real wages are down 9% on where they were in 2009. The economy may be growing again but it's going to be a long while before we get back to the 'good old days'.


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