THE GENDER pay gap has narrowed to less than 10 per cent for the first time in 15 years since records began, official data out yesterday revealed, just as the gap between public and private sector pay widened.
This came as City pay packets took a blow. Annual gross pay in Tower Hamlets – which includes Canary Wharf – dived 24.9 per cent to average £64,988, while average pay in the City fell 8.6 per cent to reach £82,996.
Across the country as a whole, women employed full-time earned on average 9.6 per cent less than men, the Office for National Statistics said, down from 10.5 per cent last year.
In part-time work there was actually a negative pay gap of minus 5.2 per cent – meaning women are earning more than men – and this gap widened by a tenth of a percentage point in the year.
Meanwhile the divide between public and private sector workers widened to £86 per week – or 18 per cent – in favour of those employed by the state. This came from a 1.6 per cent rise in the median wage of a full-time public sector employee, to £565 per week. In contrast, private sector wages rose 1.5 per cent to hit £479 per week.
The data also revealed a narrowing gap between the lowest and highest earners – wages for full-time employees in the top income decile actually fell 0.2 per cent over the year, whereas wages for the bottom decile rose 2.3 per cent.
But Brendan Barber at the Trades Union Congress worried about the slow pace of income growth. “It’s encouraging to see the gender pay gap fall again this year,” Barber said. “But it’s very worrying that with record numbers of men and women doing low paid part-time work the average [part-time] hourly wage has increased by just 1p [per hour].”
And Xenios Thrasyvoulou, founder of freelance work marketplace PeoplePerHour stressed that inflation was erasing even these marginal nominal gains.