Not sure here

Trying to troll around through the ONS statistics site is such a pain in the bum that I\’m not even going to try.

However, Ritchie highlights this report. The important graph is Figure 1.

The wage share held its post-war level at between 58–60 per cent until the early 1970s and then rose to a high of 64.5 per cent in 1975. It then started drifting downwards reaching a post-war low of 51.7 per cent in 1996, largely as a result of the rise in unemployment in the slump at the beginning of that decade. From then it recovered slightly to reach 55.2 per cent in 2001 before slipping back to 53.2 per cent in 2008 – close to its post-war low in 1996.

Now if we were looking at the US figures I\’d know what the problem with this measurement is. \”Wages\” are not the same as \”compensation\”. In the US compensation has been rising steadily, as the economy grows. Wages however have not. For a larger part of labour compensation has been coming in the form of such things as health care rather than actually in the wage packet.

There\’s also been a change in the structure of the workforce: fewer people are working for wages as such, more for profits from small even one man) businesses and so on. So it isn\’t entirely fair to look purely at the wages part of the economy and thus declare that the falling share means that the average bloke is getting screwed.

What would be interesting to find out is whether the UK figures are similarly skewed by similar factors. And as I say, the ONS site is way too difficult for me to trawl through to find out.

Anyone know?

Are there similar problems with the UK statistics in the construction of that fall in the share of the economy going to wages?

One comment on “Not sure here

  1. Would we not expect this to happen anyway? The capital employed per worker is going up. Many sectors employ very few workers to make vast quantities of goods. Would this not lead automatically to a falling share of wages, as opposed to profits.

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