Earnings increases for higher paid professions such as pilots and engineers have outstripped the lower paid by a wide margin since 1986, although workers have seen increases across the board.
Official figures show that the top ten per cent of employees have benefited from an 81 per cent rise in earnings, adjusting for the impact of price rises, while the bottom ten per cent have seen their wages rise by 47 per cent, widening the gap between the highest and lowest earners.
The very highest paid, the top 1 per cent, have enjoyed a rise of 117 per cent in real terms.
The Office for National Statistics says the average hourly rate of pay was £3.87 in 1986. In April 2011 it was £12.62, more than 3 times as much. But it emphasised that, taking price rises into account, average wages were up by 62%.
The minimum wage has improved the situation for the lowest paid - such as waiters and bar staff - who have seen their wages go up by 51 per cent since 1998, compared with 30 per cent for the richest earners.