Of the 4.7 million workers who were low paid in 2002, more than a quarter did not see an improvement at any point over the following 10 years, while a further 46% drifted in and out of low pay, said the Resolution Foundation think-tank.
Fewer than one in five workers managed to move up the earnings ladder, revealing the extent of "persistent" low pay in Britain, said the report, based on an analysis of official figures.
Women were more likely to be stuck on low pay, while the North East was the region with the highest number of workers failing to improve their earnings.
Manual labourers and admin workers were the top occupations for persistent low pay, it said.
Gavin Kelly, chief executive of the Resolution Foundation, said: "Living on low pay in 2013 is tough, but being stuck on it for years on end is harder still.
"This report shines a light on the persistent nature of low pay for millions of workers and shows that women, those in regions such as the North East, the East Midlands and Wales, and people working in sectors like administration are far likelier to be stuck in low pay than others."
"More than 500,000 local government workers earn below the living wage and low pay has become embedded in councils because of the Government's three-year pay-freeze followed by a 1% squeeze.
"A low-wage economy is contributing to the country's lack of economic growth."