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One out of every six employees in the EU-27 was a low-wage earner in 2010

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But the survey concluded that it was women who were more likely to be a low-wage earner: 21 % of female employees compared with 13.3 % of male employees.

Large differences were also seen between men and women in terms of levels of education and types of contract. Education, of course, plays a significant role in employment. The lower the level, the higher the likelihood of being a low-wage earner. In the survey, 29.0 % of employees with a low education level were low-wage earners, compared with 19.3 % of those with a medium level, and 5.8 % of those with a higher level. More than half of employees with a low level of education in Germany (54.6 %) and Slovakia (51.5 %) were low-wage earners, and almost half in Romania (49.4 %).

The type of employment contract was also seen to have an impact. In the EU-27 in 2010, 31.3 % of employees with a contract of limited duration were low-wage earners, compared with 15.7 % for those with an indefinite contract. In all Member States, except Estonia and Cyprus, the pattern was the same. The largest proportions of low-wage earners among employees with a contract of limited duration were observed in the Netherlands (47.9 %), Poland (42.5 %), Germany (38.0 %), Bulgaria (36.9 %), Hungary and the United Kingdom (both 36.4 %).

The European Commission are looking to turn the tide with a number of initiatives. The Youth Employment Package guarantees every young person will receive a quality offer of employment or training within four months of leaving school, or of being unemployed. And Europe 2020, the EU´s growth strategy, includes an agenda for new skills and jobs, aiming to help people gain the right skills for future jobs, and to overhaul EU employment legislation.

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