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Figures show young workers' pay most affected by financial crisis

04 Jul 2014

Official figures released this week show that younger workers have suffered most from the pay squeeze since the financial crisis.

Adjusting wages for the impact of inflation, workers in their 20s were earning 12% less in 2013 than in 2009. The group that was worst hit were those aged 28, who were earning nearly 18% less per hour. For those in their 30s was fall 9%, while workers in their 50s were being paid 5% less over the same period.

The survey by the Office for National Statistics looks at workers' wages over the last four decades, with all figures taking into account inflation and the rising cost of living.

One interesting finding was that earnings peak today when people are in their late 30s – whereas in the 1970s the peak was for people in their late 20s. In 1975, it was 29-year-olds who were paid the most at the equivalent of £7.09 an hour today, but in 2013, those aged 38 had the highest average earnings at £13.93 an hour.

However, this average hides different wage peaks for men and women. Last year, wages peaked for men at the age of 50, but at 34 for women (probably because of the effect of women taking reduced hours when they start a family in their 30s). The gender pay gap has nonetheless narrowed significantly since the 1970s.

Other findings were that people who started work in the 1990s were 40% better paid in the first 18 years of work than those who started in the 1970s, and that since 2011, the best-paid 10% have seen the largest falls in wages.

But perhaps the most striking statistic is that since 1975 average earnings for full-time employees have more than doubled, after accounting for inflation.

You can see the survey results at the ONS website.