Lehman anniversary: Wages in Wales not growing as fast as rest of UK

The Lehman Brothers headquarters building on 7th Ave. in New York is seen here on Monday September 9, 2002. Lehman moved to this location in midtown after its lower Manhattan headquarters were damaged in the September 11 attacks on the nearby World Trade Center. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg News.

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Living standards in Wales are struggling to return to 2008 levels, 10 years on from the financial crisis, a business leader has said. The typical household income has grown by just 1.1% since 2008-09, the smallest rise in UK wages outside London and the south east.  House price growth has also been slow, growing by 21% – the second lowest increase in the country.  Workers told the BBC the crash has hit “every community”.  A decade ago this week, the US investment bank Lehman Brothers collapsed, sending shockwaves through the global financial system. Ian Price, director of business association CBI Wales, said Wales was not hit in the same way as London when the crisis struck, but has had a hard time returning to the growth it experienced before September 2008.  “It obviously had an impact but because we haven’t got a large financial sector it probably didn’t have the impact in Wales as it did in London or the south east,” he said.  Business growth “slowed down for two or three years” but Mr Price said it was in the “best place” since the crash, despite not returning to pre-crisis levels.  It is a different story for workers. “Salaries haven’t grown at the same level they grew pre-2008. Salary growth as a consequence has stagnated,” Mr Price said.  The average household income in Wales is £20,900, just 1.1% higher than before the crisis.  So what impact has this had on those in work and out of work?  Len Wilding, 60, worked in the Hoover factory in Pentrebach, Merthyr Tydfil, which closed in 2009. He is now a bus driver, but has not seen his wages change significantly in the last decade.  “[I was] taking home a decent wage of say £200 to £300 a week at the time. Although you were getting a redundancy that wouldn’t last that long,” he said. “You either sink or swim, hopefully I swam. I’ve still got my head above water anyway.  “I don’t think [Merthyr Tydfil] has ever has recovered. There’s no production. Nothing’s being made in this town. 400 jobs going like that was a big blow to the town and I don’t think it’s recovered. However, it is not all doom and gloom.

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