Less than one in four workers who received a pay rise in the past year had their salary increased in line with the rate of inflation – a finding that has contributed to the rising number of people who are currently looking for a new job, recruitment agency Aspire has said.

A study put to 918 workers by Aspire shows that as many as 38 percent of people haven’t received a pay rise in the past 12 months. This is despite inflation hitting a 41-year high in late 2022.

Of those who have had their salary increased in the last year (62%), less than a quarter (23.5%) had it raised in line with the most recent inflation rate (10.4%) at least.

Most workers (52.1%) who received a pay rise in this period were handed one worth up to 5 percent of their salary – less than half of the current rate of inflation. Nearly one in four (24.4%) were awarded a pay rise between 6-10 percent, which still falls short of the UK’s existing inflation rate. 

This pay stagnation has contributed to the rise in the number of people currently searching for a new job. In Q1 of 2023, two-thirds (65.6%) of workers said they are currently seeking a new role – a 13 percent increase compared to the second half of 2022 when 52.6 percent were looking and a 4.7 percent increase year-on-year (60.9%).

Added to this, nearly one in two (47.7%) of workers believe there are lots of relevant job opportunities, with how well a job pays standing out as the most important consideration.

Commenting on the findings, Aspire’s Global MD Terry Payne, said:

“Whether it’s mortgage payments or energy bills, the increased cost of living means that people are exploring their options job-wise. And if they haven’t received a pay rise recently – or if it’s not enough to keep pace with soaring costs – then it’s only natural that workers will look elsewhere.  

“The good news is that there are plenty of well-paid opportunities out there, as many employers offer attractive starting salaries to hire the talent they need. And we’re certainly noticing a gradual rise in the number of people looking to capitalise on what is a really lively jobs market. At last count, there were well over a million job vacancies in the UK, which says it all.  

“You have to sympathise with employers, though. With costs rising across the board, increasing pay is often easier said than done. In this economic climate, businesses unable to compete on pay need to think creatively, exploring different ways to attract the talent they need – from highlighting diversity and inclusion to offering unrivalled flexible working opportunities.”





Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.