A report has found that most working people are trapped on less than the living wage. Insecure, low-paid jobs are leaving record numbers of working families in poverty, with two-thirds of people who found work in the past year taking jobs for less than the living wage, according to the latest annual report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

The research shows that over the last decade incomes among those worst-off have dropped almost 10% in real terms. Painting a picture of huge numbers trapped on low wages, the Foundation said during the decade only a fifth of low-paid workers managed to move to better paid jobs.

The report finds that as many people from working families are now in poverty as from workless ones, partly due to a vast increase in insecure work on zero-hours contracts, or in part-time or low-paid self-employment. Nearly 1.4 million people are on the controversial contracts that do not guarantee minimum hours, most of them in catering, accommodation, retail and administrative jobs. Meanwhile, the self-employed earn on average 13% less than they did five years ago, the foundation said. Average wages for men working full time have dropped from £13.90 to £12.90 an hour in real terms between 2008 and 2013 and for women from £10.80 to £10.30.

Poverty wages have been exacerbated by the number of people reliant on private rented accommodation and unable to get social housing, the report said. Evictions of tenants by private landlords outstrip mortgage repossessions and are the most common cause of homelessness. The report noted that price rises for food, energy and transport have far outstripped the accepted CPI inflation of 30% in the last decade.

Julia Unwin, chief executive of the foundation, said the report showed a real change in UK society over a relatively short period of time. “We are concerned that the economic recovery we face will still have so many people living in poverty. It is a risk, waste and cost we cannot afford: we will never reach our full economic potential with so many people struggling to make ends meet. A comprehensive strategy is needed to tackle poverty in the UK. It must tackle the root causes of poverty, such as low pay and the high cost of essentials.”

A government spokesman highlighted that the percentage of people in relative poverty was at its lowest level since the mid-1980s and the number of households where no one works was the lowest since records began: “The government’s long-term economic plan is working to deliver the fastest growing economy in the G7, putting more people into work than ever before, and reducing the deficit by more than a third.”

You can read the full report here.