Wages peak in late 30s, but not for women

Average hourly earnings are peaking later and later, with the late 30s being the average, although women’s wages tend to peak at around 34, according to a report by the Office for National Statistics.

Its analysis of earnings changes over four decades found that employees aged 21 in 1995 earned 40% more after adjusting for inflation by the age of 39 than those aged 21 in 1975 did up to the age of 39.

It says average hourly earnings peaked at older ages in 2013 compared to 1975, with the difference between male and female average pay for the under 30s decreasing dramatically since 1975. However, the difference between male and female wages increased with age and men had a later peak earning age than women. The ONS statistics show that in 2013 the highest paid age group among men were 50 year olds who earned on average £15.54 per hour. By contrast the age group with the highest average earnings among females were 34 year olds who earned £13.19 per hour.

However, wages have been falling in recent years and since 2011 the top 10% of full-time earners have had the largest falls in wages after adjusting for inflation. Over the long term, though, wages are up. Since 1975 average earnings for full-time employees have more than doubled after accounting for inflation.

Since the introduction of the National Minimum Wage, wage growth at the bottom of the earnings distribution has been strong for both full and part-time employees.

Almost a third (32.6%) of those in the top 10% of earners worked in London in 2013 while 12.3% of the bottom 10% of earners worked in the North West. The ONS statistics found hourly wage inequality had fallen across the regions and devolved countries of the UK since 1998.

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