Workers are getting a smaller piece of the pie in booming China and economically stressed Europe alike, the United Nations labor agency said Friday, chalking up the trend to technological strides, globalization and the weakening muscle of labor unions.
Worldwide, average wages grew 1.2% last year, the International Labor Organization said in a newly released report based on available data. But the bulk of that growth was powered by China. If the Asian powerhouse is counted out, wages barely budged last year, damped by the economic crisis.
In developed countries such as Britain and the United States, wages in 2011 suffered their second dip in four years. The disappointing picture for workers in developed countries seems to be persisting, as “wages are growing marginally, if at all, in 2012,” the U.N. agency report says.
Worker pay also appeared to have dropped in the Middle East, but the organization cautioned that some estimates from the region were still tentative. Nearby Iran, which faces international sanctions over its nuclear program, suffered the biggest estimated drop, with wages plunging 12.5% last year, according to the Statistical Center of Iran.