Reproducing low wage labour: capital accumulation and young workers in Greater Manchester

Ed Yates


This paper explores the relationship between young workers, capital accumulation, and conditions of work and employment in Greater Manchester. This is achieved by focusing on the central role of labour in processes of profitable accumulation in the city-region and critically examining how these processes lead to particular outcomes for both the local state and the sectoral composition of the local labour market. Greater Manchester has been selected as a case study as levels of low-pay for young workers are above the national average of 40% and there are parts of the city-region with some of the highest unemployment rates in the country. The research argues that in order to understand these labour market conditions it is necessary to move beyond sociological explanations that fixate on the essential “youngness” of young workers. Instead, this paper demonstrates that the labour market conditions currently experienced by young workers are the result of large-scale changes in the way in which profit is generated, which have had major implications for the capacity of the local state to progressively intervene in labour markets.

Accumulation - Wages - young workers - social reproduction - labour markets - profitability crises - service sector - deindustrialisation - local state