Real wages: At what age do people in the UK earn the most?

Nassos Stylianou
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It pays to be older. Well, the age at which workers' wages are peaking is getting older at least.

While economists and statisticians have increasingly been focusing on real wages, which have grown in only six months of the past six years, there is in fact another important aspect of the debate about earnings, as the Office of National Statistics has highlighted in a report released today.

The ONS report analysing UK wages over the past four decades shows that median earnings are at their highest for people in their late 30s, coming later in the age distribution than it had done in the mid-1970s.

At £13.93 an hour, those aged 38 had the highest average earnings in 2013 compared to 29 year-olds who were paid the most in 1975, receiving the equivalent of $7.09 per hour. In 2009, 34 year-olds had the highest median hourly earnings, receiving £15.01 in 2013 prices.

The data also highlights how young people have suffered most from the squeeze on pay since the financial crisis, with workers in their 20s earning 12 per cent less in 2013 than in 2009.

While the good news is that median earnings for all age groups have increased in the last 40 years, average real earnings in the five years from 2009 have dropped across the board.

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