Recession cannot put dent in long-term upward wage trend

Ben Southwood
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THE RECESSION’S tight squeeze on incomes has not been able to erase the earnings gains employees have enjoyed since New Labour took power in 1997, figures showed yesterday.

Median gross weekly earnings rose 57.8 per cent in nominal terms between 1997 and 2012, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said yesterday, which still amounted to a 14.8 per cent gain after changes in prices.

Over the last year, growth was 1.5 per cent in nominal earnings, from £498 per week in April 2011 to £506 per week in April 2012, the ONS numbers showed. The last time they were this low in constant 2012 money was 2002, when wages averaged £504 at today’s prices.

Within this number, earnings differentials between men and women and top and bottom earners came down.

Men’s hourly earnings, excluding overtime, grew 1.1 per cent over the year, half of the 2.2 per cent growth in women’s pay – narrowing the gender pay gap for full-time employees to 9.6 per cent, from 10.5 per cent in 2011.

And earnings in the bottom decile came up two per cent over the year, bringing them to £282 per week, the ONS said. This compared to growth of just 0.1 per cent in the top 10 per cent of earners’ wages, which brought these to £999 per week.