Many people in middle and low income jobs have barely seen any improvement in their incomes over the past 30 years, a report from the TUC says.
Low income workers have seen their pay rise by 27% in real terms over the past 30 years but rises for the top 10% of earners have been four times higher.
Its report found a "sharp divide" in earnings growth between professions.
While medical practitioners saw a 153% rise since the late 1970s, bakers' wages fell by 1%.
Wages grew by over 100% for judges, barristers and solicitors, while they fell by 5% for forklift truck drivers and 3% for packers and bottlers in the same period.
Its report, called "The Livelihood Crisis" by Stewart Lansley, says there has been a steady growth in "bad jobs", offering poor wages and job security.
It says there are almost twice as many people now earning a third less than the median compared with 1977.
It added that a significant proportion of workers have received little if any financial benefit from the doubling in size of the British economy in the last 30 years.
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "People often cite the recession as the source of this income squeeze but a livelihood crisis has been brewing in Britain for decades.
"The financial crash has exposed decades of limp wage growth offset by soaring household debt."
Mr Barber says the nation's entire economy needs to be radically transformed.
"The financial crisis should have led to a fundamental economic rethink but instead our discredited model of market capitalism has somehow emerged unscathed.
"Far from making the changes that we need, the coalition is instead introducing more punitive measures against those on low and middle incomes.
"Unless we radically transform our economy - from recasting the role of the state to prioritising a fairer distribution of new wealth and jobs - we will simply be storing up more problems for the future."