Just 10 Percent of Workers Get Nearly Half of Global Wages: ILO

(TELESUR) – Ten percent of workers receive 48.9 percent of total pay worldwide, while the lowest paid 50 percent of workers receive just 6.4 percent, the International Labour Organization (ILO) said here on Thursday.

A new ILO data set also reveals that the lowest 20 percent of income earners, i.e. some 650 million workers, earn less than one percent of global labor income. This figure has hardly changed in 13 years, the ILO added.

According to the report, overall global labor income inequality has declined since 2004.

“However, this is not due to reductions in inequality within countries — at the national level, pay inequality is actually increasing. Rather, it is because of increasing prosperity in large emerging economies, namely China and India,” says the ILO report.

“The data show that in relative terms, increases in the top labor 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, who heads the ILO’s Data Production and Analysis Unit.

The ILO assessment is the first global estimate of the distribution of labor income and shows that pay inequality remains pervasive in the work sphere.

The “Global Labour Income Share and Distribution” data set, developed by the ILO Department of Statistics, draws on the world’s most extensive collection of harmonized labor force survey data from 189 countries.

It offers two new indicators for significant trends in the world of work at national, regional and global levels.

One indicator provides the first internationally comparable figures on the share of gross domestic product (GDP) that goes to workers, rather than capital, through wages and earnings. The other indicator looks at how labor income is distributed.

Poorer countries tend to have much higher levels of pay inequality, something that worsens the hardships of vulnerable populations.

In sub-Saharan Africa, the bottom 50 percent of workers earn only 3.3 percent of labor income, compared to the European Union, where the same group receives 22.9 percent of the total income paid to workers.

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 more accurate indicators on wellbeing, environmental sustainability, equality and a human-centered development agenda.