Cost of living: Workers need £49,300 salary to feel ‘comfortable’ as average wage ‘not enough to live on’

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The worst cost of living crisis since the 1950s has resulted in the average wage being “no longer enough for people to live on”, according to a new survey by Reed.

Workers feel they would typically need a £49,300 salary to live “comfortably” as the cost of living crisis surges, a new survey has revealed. Recruitment giant Reed made the findings after analysing 16 million job adverts and asking 50,000 people a range of questions about their salary.

Despite workers stating they would need a bare minimum of just over £49,000 to feel financially secure, the current Office for National Statistics (ONS) median salary for the UK lags well behind at £33,000. Reed said one of the worst cost of living crises since the 1950s has resulted in the average wage being “no longer enough for people to live on”.

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It means that workers on an average salary would need a 48% pay rise to feel secure amid the sharp increase in the cost of living. The ideal wage differs by region, though - workers in London felt they would need a substantial salary of £65,000 to feel financially stable, whereas in the East Midlands and East of England workers would be happy earning £45,000.

The data also revealed the engineering and manufacturing sector has seen the biggest salary increase, rising 5% in the past year. The financial services and insurance sector was the only one to suffer a decline, with the average salary dropping by 4% over the past year.

Ian Nicholas, global managing director at Reed, said: “It’s clear that despite the jobs market remaining largely positive, the uncertainty and price shocks in food and fuel have created uncertainty for both businesses and employees. There is some hope, however, as there remains a healthy level of activity in the employment market, one which may potentially prevent the economic thunderstorm from causing too much destruction.”

Looking at salary expectations across the survey, over a quarter (26%) stated they are unhappy with their current salary, with 61% of these unhappy respondents feeling their salary is not rising alongside the cost of living. In addition, 39% felt the industry they work in does not pay well and over a third (36%) believed they could get paid more by switching jobs.

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The figures also unveiled that 20% are actively looking for new job opportunities, with over a third (38%) considering looking for a new job. Mr Nicholas added: “The last time UK inflation started to increase rapidly was in 1976 – but the saving grace for people and businesses today, however, is that the jobs market is currently as active as it can be during a testing financial time.

“Even though we aren’t expecting a massive shake up with salaries, which are likely to follow the current trends, we are still seeing a lot of movement – people are taking the risk and looking for a better paying job and businesses looking to hire are able to put themselves forward to find fresh, new talent.”

On a positive note, over half (53%) of workers surveyed were still happy with the salary they get, as 35% of respondents stated they feel satisfied that the work they do is right for the salary they receive, and 34% believe it went well with their role.

Average salaries workers said they could live comfortably on by region, according to the survey

  • East Midlands: £44,500
  • East of England: £44,000
  • London: £65,000
  • North East: £46,000
  • North West: £47,000
  • Northern Ireland: £46,000
  • Scotland: £48,000
  • South East: £49,000
  • South West: £51,000
  • Wales: £47,000

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