Unemployment drops but the gender pay gap remains

unemployment falls official figures

The number of people in work has increased, according to official figures. The Office of National Statistics (ONS) says there are now 32.10 million people in work, 94,000 more than for March to May 2017 and 317,000 more than for a year earlier.

The employment rate (the proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 who were in work) is 75.1%, up from 74.5% from a year earlier.

The unemployment rate (the proportion of those in work plus those unemployed, that were unemployed) is now 4.3%, that’s down from 5.0% for a year earlier and the joint lowest since 1975, says the ONS.

The figures show there are 1.44 million unemployed people (people not in work but seeking and available to work), 52,000 fewer than for March to May 2017 and 215,000 fewer than for a year earlier.

Earnings

Latest estimates show that average weekly earnings for employees in Great Britain in nominal terms (that is, not adjusted for price inflation) increased by 2.2% including bonuses, and by 2.1% excluding bonuses, compared with a year earlier, the ONS says.

In real terms (that is, adjusted for price inflation), the latest estimates show that average weekly earnings for employees in Great Britain in real terms fell by 0.3% including bonuses, and fell by 0.4% excluding bonuses, compared with a year earlier.

Labour disputes

There were 62,000 working days lost from 10 stoppages and 4,000 people took strike action, in August 2017, says the ONS. The total number of working days lost (62,000) is the highest since July 2016 and the number of working days lost in the private sector (61,000) is the highest since February 2004.

However, it says this number is ‘historically low’ compared to previous eras. Since monthly records began in December 1931, the highest cumulative 12-month estimate for working days lost to strikes was 32.2 million for the 12 months to April 1980. The lowest cumulative 12-month estimate for working days lost was 143,000 for the 12 months to March 2011.

Gender pay gap

From scientists to health professionals to chefs, ONS figures show that women earn less per hour, on average, than men in several major occupation groups.

When it comes to part time work the gender pay gap between men and women is 18% in favour of men, it says. This is partly due to the number of women working part time. The ONS says there are more than three times as many women working part-time than men, and part-time jobs tend to be lower paid.

However, a pay gap of 9% remains for full-time workers, with women earning less than men in every occupation group (even those where women outnumber men).

Professional occupations

Women hold nearly half (45%) of full-time “professional occupations” – including scientists, engineers and health professionals – yet their hourly earnings are 11% lower, on average, than men.

Meanwhile, men are more likely than women to work in highly paid occupations, like managers, directors and senior officials, where women earn 16% less per hour on average. In jobs where men outnumber women, including the legal profession, the ONS says there is generally a pay gap in favour of men.

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