Blog by author
The past few months have been difficult for some of the UK’s largest low-paying sectors, with frequent news stories telling of squeezed profits and store closures among high street retailers and restaurant chains. In retail, the ‘bricks and mortar’ outlets are locked in a ‘survival-of-the-fittest’ battle with online competitors, whilst restaurants are suffering from a decline in spending on leisure activities due to inflation and stagnant wages. Last week’s rise in the National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage rates will only add to the challenges.
UK productivity has been woefully poor since the onset of the Global Financial Crisis and has surprised forecasters to the downside. At the same time, employment has surprised to the upside and the employment rate has now reached record highs. In this blog we show that there is a long-established negative association between employment and productivity growth in the UK data, which signals a potential trade-off with far-reaching implications for public finances, Brexit and overall welfare.