SUNDERLAND is one of the worst cities in the country for the proportion of people in insecure, low-paid jobs, according to a new report.
The Centre for Cities study, supported by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, maps changes in the UK’s labour market between 2001 and 2011, and charts pay rates across the country.
It shows more than a third of Wearside workers are in a low-paid job – classed as earning less than two-thirds of the national average.
However, it is not all bad news.
The city did see a shift towards more high-paying posts in the decade to 2011 and retains a substantial share of intermediate jobs compared to other cities, thanks to the presence of Nissan and its supply chain.
“There’s no doubt low-paying jobs have always existed, and some UK cities continue to see significant growth in high-paid jobs,” said Centre for Cities chief executive Alexandra Jones.
“But what has changed over the past few decades is that, in many cities, the pathways to upward mobility have been severely eroded, as their jobs markets polarise and the stable jobs of the ‘middle’ begin to slip away.”
Politicians had put too much emphasis on the number of people in work without paying sufficient attention to the quality of the jobs that were being created.
“For far too long, successive governments have focused on the number, not the quality of jobs being created – but the trend towards low-paying, insecure employment is bad for workers, bad for cities, and bad for the national economy,” she said.
“Lack of opportunities for worker progression threatens to trap workers in poverty cycles from which they, and their cities, cannot escape.”
The report recommends giving cities more flexibility over funding to help them support new and existing businesses, and letting the Low Pay Commission work with cities that have a strong case for introducing a local minimum wage.
Also, giving cities greater regulatory and borrowing powers to help them to reduce housing, transport and childcare costs, raising living standards for workers in low-pay occupations.