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Summary tables provide data on earnings by gender, by age group and by region between 2008 and 2021. More detailed data can be accessed using an Earnings data tool.

Trend in average earnings

Median weekly pay for full-time employees in the UK was £611 at April 2021. After adjusting for inflation (to obtain figures “in real terms”), this is 2.3% lower than in 2008.

The chart shows the trend since 1997, adjusting for CPI inflation. The median is the point at which half of employees earn more and half earn less.

Source: ONS, Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings, 2021

Regional differences

Median weekly pay was highest for full-time employees living in London and lowest for those in the North East at April 2021.

Source: ONS, Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings, 2021

London and the South East saw the largest falls in median full-time earnings over the period 2008-2021 after adjusting for price inflation (“in real terms”). Real median earnings in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland are higher than in 2008, but lower in every region of England.

 Source: ONS, Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings, 2021

Pay for younger and older workers

Median weekly pay was highest for employees in their 40s at April 2021:

Source: ONS, Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings, 2021

Following the economic downturn in 2008, median earnings decreased in real terms across age groups. At 2021, real median pay for 18-21 year olds was 7% higher than its 2008 level, but earnings for older age groups remained at the same level or lower than before the downturn.

Source: ONS, Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings, 2021

Source: ONS, Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings, 2021

Note the charts are not tracking a particular group of people over time. Rather they are comparing people, for example, aged 40-49 in 2021 with people aged 40-49 in 2008. Those aged 40-49 in 2008 will now be in their 50s, while those aged 40-49 in 2021 would have been in their 30s in 2008.

Accessing the data

The summary tables below provide data on median weekly pay for full-time employees in each year from 2008 to 2021, by region of residence and by age group.

The summary tables also show the change in median pay by gender, by region and by age group since 2008 and since 2010.

More detailed data are provided in the Earnings data tool¸ which allows users to view data on median pay for male or female, full-time or part-time employees by region and by age group back to 1997 where available. Users can select data on weekly, hourly or annual pay and can select the group of employees of interest. The tool is intended for users with specific data requirements. Guidance on interpreting the estimates and the effect of survey error is provided within the tool. 

Further information

The data presented in this note are taken from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings. More up to date (but much less detailed) estimates for average earnings growth are published on a monthly basis in the ONS UK Labour Market bulletin. The latest figures from both sources can be found in the Library briefing Average Earnings: Key Economic Indicators.

The Library’s briefing paper on the Gender pay gap takes a detailed look at pay between men and women.


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