People in work across income divides are worried about their jobs and pay as an “age of automation” looms, according to a survey from the Royal Society of Arts (RSA).
Despite high levels of employment, four in five people worry that inflation will outstrip their pay in future, the research carried by Populus for the RSA found.
Dividing respondents into four income groups, it found that the “just about managing” workers who Theresa May has focused on helping were more worried (85%) than even the poorest “not managing”.
Even the “just saving” (79%) and “comfortably saving” were worried about price increases outstripping wage rises.
The RSA, whose chief executive Matthew Taylor recently led an employment review for the Prime Minister, warned the link between employment and economic security has been “fundamentally broken” since the 2008 financial crash.
It said automation, an ageing population, climate change and Brexit uncertainty could make the problem worse.
The survey also showed a third of the “just about managing” had a household income above the national average (£34,000).
But they were still more worried about pay, progression and poverty in work than any other group, the research suggested.
A universal basic income (UBI) would help restore optimism with seven million people in working households living in poverty, the RSA said.
More widely, it said there was a need for ministers to shift away from “traditional” policy focused on employment, equality and poverty and focus instead on economic security, defined as the confidence people have in maintaining a decent quality of life, given their circumstances.