Average salaries only rose 6% between 2008 and 2012, according to research by price comparison and switching service Uswitch.com.
Its research found that, while the average cost of running a household has risen by 25% and bills have risen by 67%, average annual wages rose from £24,900 in 2008 to £26,500 at the end of 2012.
It also found that, in real terms, the value of employees’ wages have fallen back to 2003 levels, with salaries down by 4.5% between 2007 and 2011.
Just over half (52%) of respondents had a pay rise in 2012, while 36% had their pay frozen for 12 months or more, and 13% had their pay cut.
Michael Ossei, personal finance expert at uSwitch.com, said: “Spiralling living costs are stretching household budgets to their absolute limit and people are running out of ways to fund their ever-increasing bills.
“With salaries failing to deliver, many are being forced to turn to debt just to stay afloat.”