Published: 10:00, 01 April 2014
Despite having the lowest unemployment figures in the country, a third of jobs pay less than the living wage in parts of the South East – with parts of Kent among the worst.
Nearly a third of the people living in both Thanet constituencies are paid less than the living wage – the worst in Kent and ranking them both in the top five black spots in the region.
Figures released by the TUC show 29% of workers in South Thanet earn less than the basic cost of living, while 27.7% in North Thanet are struggling to make ends meet.
On the 15th anniversary of the introduction of the minimum wage, the findings also reveal women fair far worse than men.
The number of women paid less than the living wage in South Thanet rises to 33.8%, ranking it fifth in the South East.
Yet Sittingbourne and Sheppey is the worst place in Kent for female workers, with 34% earning less than the cost of living.
The figures have been released as part of the TUC's Fair Pay Fortnight, running until Sunday.
"Working families are experiencing the biggest pressure on their living standards since Victorian times..." - TUC regional secretary Megan Dobney
Southern and Eastern region TUC regional secretary Megan Dobney said: "Extending the living wage is a vital way of tackling the growing problem of in-work poverty across the South East – and Britain as a whole.
"Working families are experiencing the biggest pressure on their living standards since Victorian times.
"Pay has been squeezed at all levels below the boardroom and it’s costing our economy dear.
"The number of living wage employers is growing rapidly and unions are playing their part in encouraging more employers to sign up and pay it – but government must show equal initiative.
"We need to see a far greater commitment to pay the living wage from government and employers, and modern wages councils which could set higher minimum rates in industries where employers can afford to pay their staff more."
If working does not cover the cost of living the figures will throw into question the value of Chancellor George Osborne's aim for 100% employment in the UK.
Across the country, about five million people get paid less than the living wage.
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