Women actually earn MORE than men in their 20s and 30s – and other surprising stats about pay

Between the ages of 22 and 39 women on average earn more per hour than men.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics showed that between the ages of 22 and 29 women earned 1.1% more per hour than men of the same age, and between 30 and 39 women earned 0.2% more per hour than men in the same age group.

Women celebrating

But for the average over all age groups, men earn 9.4% more than women per hour, with the difference at its largest between the ages of 50 and 59, and between 16 and 17-year-olds.

Sneaky figures

However, the first figures I mentioned don’t tell the whole story.

On a weekly basis, men walk away with more at every age level and on average. The difference in the gender pay gap in the weekly and hourly earnings figures is due to incentive pay, such as bonuses, and paid overtime.

The monetary difference between men and women’s pay is an average of £100 a week. It’s stayed roughly at £100 since 1997 when records began.

This shows how women still lag way behind their male counterparts on the pay scale, even if the gap is narrowing.

Men and women pay gap

In the last four years, the gender pay gap has yo-yoed, but it has now reached the lowest ever level since 1997.

The gap between the highest and lowest paid

While the gender pay gap has narrowed, the gap between the lowest and highest earners has ballooned.

The 10% of lowest-paid workers have seen their weekly pay rise by £115 to £288 since 1997, while those in the 10% highest paid workers have had a £424 weekly pay rise to £1,024.

While top earners would no doubt argue their pay has stayed at around 3.5 times that of the lowest 10% since 1997, they now earn £737 a week more than the lowest earners, compared with £427 more in 1997. This makes the top 10% of earners far wealthier than they were in 1997, in terms of the extra goods and services they can afford.

highest earners vs lowest earners

Wage rage

Last week we reported, after five years of falling pay, British workers could be finally seeing a wage rise.

However, after inflation rose to 1.3% in October, the tiny wage rise we thought we might be getting has been cancelled out, as the cost of goods and services went up by the same amount.

It looks like weekly wages went up by just £1 in the year to April 2014, not adjusting for inflation, which is the smallest annual growth since 1997.

Taking inflation into account, wages actually went down by 1.6%.

Wages have been falling since 2008, and we’re now back to early 2000 levels. (Let’s just remember 2000 was the year S Club 7 won best British breakthrough act at the Brit Awards.)

Do private sector workers REALLY earn more?

Anecdotally, public sector workers historically accepted lower pay than those in the private sector, because they were entitled to other benefits, such as a good pension and more generous maternity leave. However, this is not the case.

Private sector earnings are around 85% of public sector earnings, and have been since around 2008. In April 2014, private sector earnings were £493, compared with £579 for public sector workers.

This is partly due to the lowest-paid professions, such as bar staff and hairdressers, being exclusively in the private sector, with more degree-level positions in the public sector.

However, the research doesn’t look at the difference between comparable jobs in the public and private sector.

Don’t get old (especially if you’re a woman)

Men’s pay starts to drop off at the age of 50, while women’s starts falling a decade before at 40.

The age-effect is particularly severe for women, who at the age of 60 and over, are earning less than those at the start of their career in their 20s.

Age pay gap

What do you think of the pay figures? Let me know on Twitter @RobynVinter, using Facebook or in the comments below.


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Readers' comments (1)

  • Like both things with statistics they can be made to say what you want.

    Looking at the women 60+ Is this income or earnings? If its income then since women can retire at 62 (Oct 2014) , it might explain why they earn less than those women in their 20's.

    A better comparison might be to look at the hourly rate rather than the absolute pay. Be also interesting to see the results as median rather than average pay.

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