Many Birmingham workers are earning as little as £2.05 an hour according to a new study.
A total of 480 workers were interviewed for the report, A Living Wage: Mapping Low Pay in Birmingham, which has raised concern among religious and community leaders about the struggles faced by people employed in the city.
The report looked at issues including the exploitation of migrant workers and the challenges faced by families living in Birmingham who are paid less than the legal minimum wage of £5.05.
According to the report workers who suffered low wages included factory workers, cleaners, betting shop workers, waiters and those working in kitchens.
Of the workers surveyed, 40 per cent had to support families on these wages while just 24 per cent enjoyed paid holidays, only 10 per cent paid into a pension and only 27 per cent received paid sick leave.
It was also identified the lowest paid workers as those who work the longest hours with 22 per cent of people quizzed clocking up more than 50 hours per week.
Dr John Pierson, from Staffordshire University, who led the project, said: "The findings illuminate the underside of the local economy in Britain's second city and point to the scale of the problem of low pay."
The report was the result of a collaboration between Birmingham Citizens, an alliance of faith-based and community institutions in the city and the Community Trade Union.
Father Gerry McArdle, a priest at St Joseph's Church in Nechells, said: "Ten percent of the people we surveyed do not even make the legal minimum wage. We have working people who knock on the door of the church looking for food."
Local mosque leader Ayub Pervaz and Bishop Derek Webley from the New Testament Church of God warned of the impact of low wages.
"Our young people are frustrated because most of the jobs they are offered are low paying and good paying companies like Rover are disappearing," he said.
"When people don't get a wage they can adequately live on, it leads to frustration, isolation and disengagement."
Head of Organising for the Community Union Christine Hardacre called for a new alliance of labour, faith and community groups.
She said: "We cannot ignore the facts of this research. It is our job to come together to organise these workers."