The co-author of the report into minimum wage and workers' pay in the UK has said that for a large number of workers, people are earning minimum wage beyond that of their first job.
Alex Hurrell, senior analyst at the Resolution Foundation and co-author of the report, said:
Living on the minimum wage is always hard, but at the very least we would hope that minimum wage work is the first rung on the ladder. For a large group of workers it seems that this is not happening. The reality is a cycle of minimum wage jobs and unemployment, with little progression over time.
– Alex Hurrell, senior analyst at the Resolution Foundation and co-author of the report
The report by think tank, the Resolution Foundation, found that in all, some 320,000 people - 17% of all those currently earning the minimum wage, and including 230,000 women - have not earned more than 25p an hour above the minimum wage in the last five years.
Of those, 140,000 have gone 10 years and 90,000 13 years without earning more than this level.
Among those who have only had minimum wage jobs in the last 10 years, almost four in five - 79%, or 110,000 workers - are women.
The national minimum wage was introduced at £3.60 an hour in 1999 and now stands at £6.31 an hour for adult workers, £5.03 for 18-20 year-olds, £3.72 for under-18s and £2.68 for apprentices.
More than 300,000 workers have been stuck on the minimum wage for five years or more, and 90,000 have never earned more than 25p above the minimum wage level since its introduction in 1999, according to a new report.
And the overwhelming majority of those trapped on the lowest rung of the pay ladder are women, who make up almost three-quarters (73%) of those in minimum wage work for five years or more, despite accounting for just 62% of all minimum wage workers.
The report by the Resolution Foundation identified a growing trend for minimum wage employees to split into two groups, the first made up of new entrants to the labour market who swiftly move on to better-paid work, and the second of workers who do not escape low pay for an extended period of time.
The crucial "fork in the road" comes in the mid-30s, after which the chances of remaining trapped in low pay rises sharply. While workers aged between 46 and 55 make up 17% of all those on the minimum wage, some 30% of those trapped there for five years or more are in this age group.
The increase in the national minimum wage is unwelcome in today's economic climate. We understand the Government must strike a balance between boosting consumer spending and economic growth, however they must ensure the UK's small businesses stay competitive at a time when the economy remains fragile.
There will be businesses that operate on thin margins, who will struggle with any increase to the minimum wage. We therefore urge Government to place renewed impetus into driving down their overheads, such as business rates, energy and fuel costs, and freeing up cash-flow by ending the scourge of late payment by big companies to their suppliers.
The Business Secretary, Vince Cable, said he was in favour of companies paying more than the minimum wage if they could afford it. But if wages are too high, it could lead to "significant loss of employment".
The new rates for minimum wage compare to the so-called Living Wage of £7.45 (outside London) and £8.55 in the capital. The Living Wage is worked out according to the basic cost of living in the UK, but employers only pay it on a voluntary basis.
The Living Wage Foundation welcomes the work of the Low Pay Commission, which has a difficult task in setting a rate. It is very important to have a statutory floor and ensure nobody sinks below that level.
But we think it's also important to have something more ambitious than a minimum - which is where the Living Wage comes in. The Living Wage is a voluntary rate of pay which employers commit to paying.
It's for employers who decide they can do better and go further than the statutory minimum.
– Rhys Moore, Ddirector of the Living Wage Foundation
Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey says the 12p rise in the minimum wage for adults is not enough, and wants it to go up by £1-an-hour.
An increase of £1-an-hour would have the twin-pronged effect of putting money into the wallets and purses of the lowest paid in the UK. They would then have a small extra incentive to spend in the countrys high streets, already on its knees because of the flatlining economy.
Such a £1 uplift is a more sensible way to help people off benefits - and much more humane than what the government is currently doing with its savage welfare cuts. In the long-term, increasing the national minimum wage could save the country billions. The 12p increase announced is derisory - and does nothing to help those already struggling with soaring household bills.