Ukpono Ukpong, Abuja
Reports have shown that only 10 per cent of workers receive almost half of the total global pay (48.9 per cent), while the lowest-paid 50 per cent of workers receive just 6.4 per cent.
According to Labour Income Share and Distribution dataset, developed by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Department of Statistics, the lowest 20 per cent of income earners (around 650 million workers) earn less than 1 per cent of global labour income.
The dataset which is drawn from the world’s largest collection of harmonized labour force survey data, contains data from 189 countries.
The new dataset shows that overall global labour income inequality fell since 2004 due to the increasing prosperity in large emerging economies, such as China and India.
Although, the overall findings noted that the income inequality remains pervasive in the world of work, the key findings show that, globally, the share of national income going to workers is falling, from 53.7 per cent in 2004 to 51.4 per cent in 2017.
The release of the new dataset follows a recommendation in the report of the ILO Global Commission on the Future of Work, which highlighted the need for new indicators to more accurately track progress on well-being, environmental sustainability, equality and a human-centred development agenda.
The new dataset will also be used to monitor progress towards the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The Head of the ILO’s Data Production and Analysis Unit, Steven Kapsos, said that 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.
“Looking at the average pay distribution across countries, it finds that the share going to the middle class (the middle 60 per cent of workers) declined between 2004 and 2017, from 44.8 per cent to 43 per cent.
At the same time, the share earned by the top 20 per cent of earners increased, from 51.3 per cent to 53.5 per cent.
Countries where these top earners saw their share of national pay rise by at least one percentage point include Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Pakistan, the United Kingdom and the United States.
“The data show 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,” said Steven Kapsos, Head of the ILO’s Data Production and Analysis Unit.
“However, when the labour income shares of the middle or lower income workers increase, the gains tend to be widespread, favouring everyone except the top earners.”
Similarly, an Economist in the ILO Department of Statistics, Roger Gomis, said that the majority of the global workforce endures strikingly low pay and for many having a job does not mean having enough to live on.
“The average pay of the bottom half of the world’s workers is just 198 dollars per month and the poorest 10 per cent would need to work more than three centuries to earn the same as the richest 10 per cent do in one year.”