Pay goes up – by just £1 a week

Published: Wednesday 19th November 2014 by The News Editor

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Median weekly pay for full-time workers went up by just £1 in the year to April to £518, the smallest growth since 1997, new figures have shown.

Annual increases averaged around 1.4% a year between 2009 and 2014, but the latest figure represents a rise of 0.1%, said the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Adjusted for inflation, weekly earnings fell by 1.6%, continuing a trend since the recession, to levels last seen in the early 2000s.

The gender pay gap has narrowed by 0.6% to 10%, the lowest since records began in 1997, said the ONS.

There were 236,000 jobs with pay less than the national minimum wage in April, representing 0.9% of all jobs.

Around 9,000 of those were held by 16-to-17-year-olds, and 31,000 by 18-to-20-year-olds.

The ONS said 196,000 jobs paying less than the statutory minimum were held by employees aged 21 or over.

The bottom 10th of full-time employees earned less than £288 a week, compared with £1,240 for the top 10%, the new figures revealed.

The gap between men’s and women’s earnings from 1997 to 2014 has remained “relatively consistent” at around £100, although it has been closing in percentage terms.

The gap for both full and part-time employees was also a record low of 19.1%, down by 0.7% from 2013.

The biggest differences are in skilled trades occupations, managers, directors and senior officials, while the lowest are in sales, customer service and leisure.

London topped the regional table for full-time median earnings at £660 a week, £143 more than the figure for the whole of the UK, and around £200 more than in Northern Ireland.

Pay reaches a maximum in the 40-49 age group for men and 30-39 for women.

Matthew Whittaker, chief economist at the Resolution Foundation, said: “Today’s bleak figures contrast with signs last week that the UK’s six year pay squeeze was coming to an end.

“While today’s data relates to April – a period in which we already knew pay was falling – the depth of decline highlights just how tentative any recent recovery remains.

“Of particular note in the latest figures is the fact that full-time hourly earnings among men fell in cash terms in the year to April 2014. While the still large gender pay gap has thus narrowed again, this is not way to erode the earnings penalty facing women and shows that the often neglected issue of male employment needs closer attention.

“The variation in experience across employees – with strong pay growth for those who have remained in continuous employment and pay contraction among men – reinforces the role that changes in the shape of the labour market have played over the past 12 months, as we have shown in our recent work.”

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Ordinary households are not sharing in the recovery and the recession in their wages continues despite the economy’s return to growth. The gains of growth are going to a few people at the top, with ordinary workers being shut out of the recovery.

“The Government is making history for the longest fall in real earnings since records began – a time when Queen Victoria was on the throne. Britain needs a pay rise to end the decline in living standards and to put the spending money in people’s pockets that will keep businesses growing.”

Geraint Johnes, director at Lancaster University’s Work Foundation, said: “The data show that the proportions of workers being paid less than the relevant minimum wage is markedly higher for young workers (aged 16-20) than is the case for those aged 21 or more. For the latter group, well under 1% are paid below the minimum, but for younger employees the proportion is between 2.5 and 3%. In total, some 236,000 workers receive a wage below the minimum, of whom 40,000 are aged between 16 and 20.

“This is, in part at least, due to the incidence of part-time employment amongst young workers, many of whom are still in education. Part-time employees are much more likely than full-time workers to be paid low wages.”

Published: Wednesday 19th November 2014 by The News Editor

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