Despite the passage of over a decade since the global financial crisis, a recent analysis by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) unveils a somber reality: pay packets in nearly two-thirds of UK local authorities are still worth less than they were in 2008.

This revelation underscores the enduring impact of what is now considered the longest pay squeeze in modern times, prompting scrutiny of the economic policies implemented by the Conservative government.

The TUC’s thorough examination of official statistics paints a stark picture. Out of 340 UK local authorities surveyed, a significant 212 are grappling with lower real wages in 2024 compared to pre-crisis levels. This prolonged period of wage stagnation, spanning over 16 years since the onset of the global financial downturn, has left workers financially worse off across various regions of the country.

Regional Disparities Reflect Nationwide Trend

While London emerges as a region particularly hard-hit by the ongoing wage squeeze, with nearly all (94%) of its local authorities reporting lower real pay than in 2008, disparities are evident nationwide. Even in regions like the North East, where minimum wage increases have bolstered incomes for the lowest earners, half (50%) of local authorities still contend with real wages below 2008 levels, painting a concerning picture of widespread economic hardship.

TUC General Secretary Paul Nowak doesn’t mince words, describing the findings as a “damning indictment” of the Conservatives’ economic record. Despite signs of a wage recovery prior to 2010, the implementation of austerity measures, including real terms pay cuts in the public sector, dealt a significant blow to progress. The UK’s performance in terms of pay growth since the financial crisis ranks poorly compared to other OECD nations, raising questions about the efficacy of current economic strategies.

Nowak stresses the urgent need for a paradigm shift in economic policy to stimulate growth and ensure fair pay for workers across the board. Investing in UK industry and enacting policies that guarantee workers a fair share of the wealth they generate are seen as critical steps towards reversing the current trend of declining living standards.