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Millennial men are falling behind the generation before them in their early careers, reflecting a shift towards young men doing low paid work traditionally carried out by women, according to the leader of a leading think tank.
Resolution Foundation Director Torsten Bell says the think tank’s Intergenerational Commission on the labour market prospects for younger generations shows millennial men have earned less than Generation X men in every year between the ages of 22 and 30, resulting in a cumulative pay deficit during their 20s of £12,500. In contrast millennial women have experienced neither generational pay progress or decline.
The Foundation’s analysis highlights a shift towards lower-skilled jobs, often done part-time, as the key reasons for the lack of pay progress of young men. Both men and women have been affected by a reduction in some traditional mid-skilled occupations over the last two decades, with a 40 per cent fall in young men (aged 22-35) doing routine manufacturing jobs and a 66 per cent reduction in the number of young women working in secretarial roles, says the Resolution Foundation.
However, it adds that, while employment growth amongst women has been overwhelmingly transferred into higher-skilled jobs, for men the growth is much more evenly split between higher and lower paying occupations.
The research shows that the proportion of low paid work done by young men has increased by 45 per cent between 1993 and 2015-16. This is in part driven by the number of young men in retail jobs having almost doubled, from 85,000 to 165,000. The number of young women doing these jobs has fallen over this period, says the Resolution Foundation, though they remain significantly more likely to work in retail than men. It adds that the number of young men working in bars and restaurants has trebled from 45,000 to 130,000 since 1993.
Its analysis also shows that since 1993 the number of men aged 22-35 working part-time in the lowest paid occupations (basic admin, service and sales) has increased four-fold. The number of young women working part-time in these jobs has fallen.
Torsten Bell, Executive Director at the Resolution Foundation, said: “Millennial men have earned less than the generation before them in every year of their working lives – a pay deficit that adds up to £12,500 by the time they reach 30. This is in part due to major shifts in the world of work with many more young men moving into lower skilled jobs in shops and restaurants, and doing many of those jobs part-time.
“The fact that young women have bucked this trend by moving overwhelmingly into higher-skilled roles is welcome and suggests that the disruptive force of automation has met its match in the forward march of education and feminism.
“But if the last year has taught us anything it is that we need to look beyond the headlines of rising employment, to recognise the challenges posed to groups of workers that are left behind. Policy makers need to recognise the frustration that can follow from finding that Britain does not have the opportunities you had hoped or indeed seen previous generations enjoy.”
Dr Spinder Dhaliwal, Director of Postgraduate Programmes and Reader in Entrepreneurship at Westminster Business School, agreed that much of the change was due to a move towards lower-paid, lower value added jobs. She said: ” The lure of flexible work is central to working life today. Both men and women want flexibility, and this, together with the retail sector growth in the UK, means that there is a gender battle that women are winning earlier on. This can be explained by cultural changes where both men and women take over childcare responsibilities, and as such, both require flexibility. The tech age has also contributed to the fact that people want an easy work pattern at the beginning of their working life.
“However, the study findings mask the full picture where men soon overtake women in the pay stakes and this trajectory continues for the rest of their working life. Women are still failing to find the senior roles, higher salaries and Director positions, despite the earlier career promise. Many women turn to self-employment, and for millennials being self-employed may indeed be the best route out of jobs with little prospect.”