By Esmée Hardwick-Slack
The gender pay gap for full-time workers has dropped to a low of 8.6%, according to figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS). Women in full-time work now earn 8.6% less than men, down from 2017’s 9.1%. Overall, the gap amongst all employees is at 17.9%, down from last year’s 18.4%. The smaller margin is due to more women working part-time jobs, which tend to be paid less, despite women’s hourly rate being 5.1% higher than men’s for this type of work.
Many have said that the rate of improvement is too slow, saying that it was a missed opportunity for the economy. The TUC has said that at the current rate of progression it would take half a century for men and women to be paid the same.
Frances O’Grady, TUC general secretary, has said: “The government need to crank up the pressure on employers. Companies shouldn’t just be made to publish their gender pay gaps, they should be legally required to explain how they’ll close them.”
The extent of the pay gap does vary according to age, with older female workers being more likely to be underpaid. Women aged 22-29 earn 1.3% less on average than men, with the gap increasing after age 30, and women aged 40 plus earn more than 10% less than men.
The ONS figures show that the average pay for a full-time worker in the UK has reached nearly £30,000 a year and is increasing faster than any other time since the financial crisis in 2008. Weekly earnings have reached £569, up from £550 in 2017. However, when considering inflation, the rise is only 1.2% on the previous year.
Roger Smith, statistical contact for the ONS, has said: “Average weekly pay for full-time employees is now increasing at its fastest since the financial crisis, in case terms, with hourly pay rising fastest among lower-paid occupations. However, after taking account of inflation, earnings are still only where they were in 2011 and have not yet returned to pre-downturn levels.”
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