Social mobility in Luton ‘severely eroded’ as number of white collar jobs falls sharply

Figures suggest a large decline in the amount of white collar jobs
Figures suggest a large decline in the amount of white collar jobs

The pathway to upward social mobility has ‘severely eroded’ in Luton as the town has seen a significant drop in the amount of white collar jobs, a report has revealed.

Statistics published today by the Centre for Cities and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation reveal that from 2001-2011 there was a decline of 4,800 people working in intermediate occupations across Luton, amounting to a 7.8% drop.

That rate is the second highest in the country. Only Stoke had a bigger decline over the last decade (7.9%).

At the same time it has been revealed that the town has the third largest increase of residents working in low pay occupations in the country, with 5,900 more in 2011 than in 2001 (a 4.8% rise).

Luton is also ranked as the most polarised town/city in the country, indicating a strong shift towards low pay professions.

The stark statistics place into question the town’s level of social mobility.

The report states that the fall in white collar jobs has “potentially significant implications for pay, security and progression – and risks locking more workers into cycles of low and no pay”.

It adds: “This will have knock-on effects on the wider economy in these cities as the shift towards low pay work will affect levels of consumption and firm productivity.”

Centre for Cities chief executive Alexandra Jones said: “What has changed over the past few decades is that, in many cities, the pathways to upward mobility have been severely eroded, as their jobs markets polarise and the stable jobs of the ‘middle’ begin to slip away,

“Lack of opportunities for worker progression threatens to trap workers in poverty cycles from which they, and their cities, cannot escape.”

Luton South MP Gavin Shuker issued his concern over the findings.

He told Herald & Post: “This report clearly shows that the gap between the rich and poor is widening.

“Under current plans, the government’s approach is hurting the people of Luton more than almost any other town in the country.

“I believe this evidence proves that we need fundamental changes in the running of our economy.

“It is inexcusable for the government to press ahead with more of the same on their economic policy when so many people are losing jobs to low paid employment, as is the case in our own town.”