Employment

This chart shows the real cost of beer over the last 20 years

A statistician noticed the price of a round had gone up when pubs reopened - and he wasn't going to let it go. Here's the cost of a pint in relation to average earnings since 2000.

The cost of a pint in relation to average earnings has been tracked, dating back to 2000. Image: Flickr / Matt Brown

Many of us will have noticed the price of a round creeping up once the pubs reopened after lockdown. But one statistician has decided to dig a bit deeper and create a chart showing the cost of a pint in relation to average earnings over the last 20 years.

Analyst Alex Collinson, who works for union TUC, said the point of the endeavour was to “flippantly emphasise how bad pay has been since 2008”.

His work, posted on Twitter, shows the early 2000s were a peak pints-per-wage era, while 2013 to 2015 was a “real low point for buying pints, with some recovery since then”.

The statistician was inspired to look into the real terms cost of a pint after heading back to his office’s local for the first time after the pandemic only to find that the establishment had “put its prices up from £3.50 to £5 a pint.”

“We came back after the pandemic and the round price had rocketed,” Collinson told the Big Issue.

The most dire time for pint drinkers was in 2015 – the year the Conservative party won a majority – with 1990 – the year that Margaret Thatcher resigned – having the best pint-to-wage ratio.

Recent annual pay statistics showed that while average earnings are rising again, in real terms the value of those pay packets are no different to back in 2009

Until 2008 wages rose at roughly the same pace as the cost of a pint, but since then beer prices have continued to increase at the same rate whereas wages have not. 

Collinson’s beer chart is a bit of fun, but soaring prices and inflation across all of life’s essentials are amounting to what devolved nations’ leaders called a “cost of living crisis” in the UK.

Between Brexit, the pandemic, inflation and the end of Covid support schemes, households across the country are facing a difficult winter

Inflation increased by 4.2 per cent in October, the highest in a decade. That’s more than double the Bank of England’s target and could reach five per cent by April.

This is down to soaring energy costs, experts said, as well as everyday items such as food and clothes getting more expensive very quickly.

UK households could be £1,000 worse-off in 2022, according to Resolution Foundation analysis, as the price tag on daily life combines with benefit cuts and rising taxes to limit how far Brits’ money can go.

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
FOSO is the new FOMO: Why are we so afraid to switch off and be out of office?
Work

FOSO is the new FOMO: Why are we so afraid to switch off and be out of office?

Is 'edgy upstart' BrewDog now 'boring and ubiquitous' after years of scandal? Experts weigh in
BrewDog
Business

Is 'edgy upstart' BrewDog now 'boring and ubiquitous' after years of scandal? Experts weigh in

Train strikes: Rail passengers weigh in as Aslef drivers 'grind services to a halt'
train strikes

Train strikes: Rail passengers weigh in as Aslef drivers 'grind services to a halt'

Labour's workers' rights plan slammed as 'unrecognisable' and a 'betrayal' by Unite union boss
Keir Starmer Labour Levelling Up
Workers' rights

Labour's workers' rights plan slammed as 'unrecognisable' and a 'betrayal' by Unite union boss

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know