Weekly UK earnings rose 2% last year in biggest increase since crash

Gender pay gap also shrinks to lowest level in nearly two decades, as low inflation and ‘national living wage’ boost pay.

Britons saw their real weekly earnings go up by nearly 2% last year in the biggest increase since the financial crisis, as low inflation and the introduction of the “national living wage” boosted take-home pay.

The official figures also showed that the gender pay gap had shrunk to the lowest level in nearly two decades, although the TUC said the divide was closing “at a snail’s pace” and that it would take decades for women to reach parity with men.

Workers received an average increase of 1.9% in weekly earnings in the year to April, according to the Office for National Statistics’ latest annual survey of hours and earnings. The figures were adjusted for inflation. Gross average earnings rose by 2.2% to £539 a week, from £527 in 2015.

The statistics office said the increase was due to a combination of earnings growth – boosted by the new national living wage of £7.20 for employees aged 25 plus from 1 April 2016 – and a low level of inflation at that time. It also reflects rises in the national minimum wage for younger workers from last October.

Full-time workers received a 2.2% increase in earnings while part-time workers enjoyed 6.6% growth. Those at the bottom end of the pay scale got the biggest pay rises, of 6.2%.

Gross weekly earnings
Gross weekly earnings Photograph: Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) – Office for National Statistics

The CBI business lobby group said the data confirmed a “picture of low but robust wage growth across the UK economy before the EU referendum”. Its director of people and skills, Neil Carberry, said: “It’s clear that the introduction of the national living wage has supported lower earners’ incomes, building on several years of higher than average increases in the old national minimum wage.”