More than 7,000 workers with university degrees made less than $5,000 a month in the second quarter last year - a sign that poorly educated labourers are not the only ones affected by a growing trend towards low wages. A government paper obtained by the South China Morning Post further revealed that 47,200 people working full time in professional, clerical, sales and service jobs made less than $5,000 during that period. This contrasts with the common belief that only cleaners, security guards and dishwashers bring home such low pay. The confidential paper was issued this week to members of the Labour Advisory Board, but is not available to the public. The board is to meet tomorrow to discuss a possible minimum wage policy for Hong Kong. Of the 142,600 people who earned less than the benchmark figure in the second quarter of last year, 47 per cent were unskilled labourers, 19 per cent were sales and service workers, and 11 per cent were clerks. They all worked more than 35 hours a week. Two-thirds of these workers have no more than a junior secondary school education. Five per cent are university graduates. Legislator Wong Kwok-hing, who represents the labour constituency, said he was not surprised by the numbers. 'Wages have continued to decline and many of these people work in part-time or temporary jobs,' he said. 'This is what we mean about poverty among the employed. Low wages can make society unstable. Youths do not see a bright future and suffer a sense of insecurity.' The low-wage category includes people who sell telecom services on the streets from makeshift booths, Mr Wong said. These contract workers are often paid a low base salary of a few thousand dollars, and receive commissions only if their sales are good. Some low-paid university graduates work as telephone interviewers with survey or marketing companies, Mr Wong said. He has met junior workers in the computer and information technology sector who complained about having to work long hours at reduced pay after a new contractor took over. Half the low earners were middle-aged workers, aged 40 to 59, according to the government paper. But there were also many young workers: more than 20 per cent were aged 15 to 24 years. Women outnumbered men two to one.