10 Percent Of Workers Earn Nearly Half Of All Pay, According To New Study

New data published by the International Labour Organization shows that nearly 50 percent of global pay is allocated to only 10 percent of workers, while the lowest 20 percent of earners receive just 6.4 percent of the sum payout.

On top of that, the lowest 20 percent of income earners -- around 650 million workers -- earn less than one percent of worldwide income. This figure isn't surprising news, however, as the numbers have barely changed in 13 years.

The report also shows that overall global labor income inequality has decreased since 2004. However, this is due to increasing prosperity in countries such as China and India, as opposed to reductions in inequality elsewhere. In the grand scheme of things, inequality in the world of work is still a widespread problem.

Additionally, the findings reveal that middle-class earnings declined from 44.8 percent of global pay to 43 percent of that sum between 2004 and 2017. However, the global pay share earned by the top 20 percent of workers rose from 51.3 percent to 53.5 percent.

Roger Gomis -- an economist in the organization's department of statistics -- said that, for a large number of low earners, their job doesn't cover basic living costs.

"The majority of the global workforce endures strikingly low pay and for many having a job does not mean having enough to live on. The average pay of the bottom half of the world's workers is just $198 per month and the poorest 10 percent would need to work more than three centuries to earn the same as the richest 10 percent do in one year."
Construction workers raising wood frames as they build a home.
Getty Images | Justin Sullivan

Unsurprisingly, workers in poorer countries which face economic hardships are among the most vulnerable low-paid earners. For example, in Sub-Saharan Africa, the bottom 50 percent of workers earn just over three percent of the income paid to workers overall. Compare this to European Union nations, where the same group receives 22.9 percent of the overall labor earnings, and the disparity becomes clear.

The report also notes that the bottom 50 percent of earners in the United Kingdom experienced large losses to their income between 2004 and 2017, while many of the highest-paid workers saw an increase in their earnings. Recently, the U.K. government found itself on the receiving end of a damning report by the United Nations, which condemned its austerity policies for being in breach of human rights laws.

Furthermore, the data also showed that Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Pakistan, the U.K. and the United States were among the countries where the top earners' pay rose by at least one percent. Overall, though, the report highlights that whenever pay increases for the top earners, those in the lower pay bracket tend to reap substantially diminished rewards.