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Earnings and wages in the UK - Statistics & Facts

The average annual salary for full-time workers in the United Kingdom was over 31.28 thousand British pounds in 2021. Compared with the previous year this represented an annual decrease of 0.6 percent, the worst growth annual earning growth in the twenty-first century. Among the five biggest economies in Europe, (Germany, the UK, France, Italy and Spain), the UK's average annual wage is second only to Germany, and just slightly larger than France. This is a relatively recent development, however, as during the 1990s, the average annual salary in the UK was the lowest among this group of countries, only overtaking Italy and Spain in 2000.

Wage inequality in the UK

In 2021, the gender pay gap, for all employees, calculated as the difference between the average hourly earnings for men and women was 15.4 percent. Compared with 1997, when the gender pay gap was 27.5 percent, this represents an improvement in tackling this aspect of gender inequality, but also highlights the fact that significant work is still to be done in this area. Reducing the gender pay gap among older age groups, where the gender pay gap is far more conspicuous, would clearly be a positive step in this direction. Pay gaps between ethnic minorities and white workers also continue to persist, despite also improving in recent years. As of 2019, the pay gap between white workers and ethnic minority groups was 2.3 percent, compared with 8.4 percent in 2014. This overall figure however, somewhat obscures striking pay discrepancies between ethnicities, with the average hourly earnings for White Irish workers approximately seven pounds higher than that of Pakistani workers. There is also a high degree of regional inequality when it comes to earnings in the UK, with workers in London, Scotland and the South East typically earning more than workers in Northern England, Wales, and Northern Ireland

The UK's highest earners

The average weekly salary for chief executives and senior officials in the UK was 1.66 thousand pounds a week in 2021, making it the highest-paid occupation in the country. By contrast, the average weekly salary in the lowest-paid occupation; bar staff, was just over 301pounds a week. Differences in pay between sectors are also quite significant, with the average annual salary in the financial sector almost double that of the accommodation and food service sector. In general, graduates earned more than people who did not have a degree, although not until they are 24 or older, with those educated to apprenticeship level the highest earners in the youngest age groups. Those who did an engineering degree were the top earners among graduates, with arts graduates earning the least on average.

Interesting statistics

In the following 5 chapters, you will quickly find the 38 most important statistics relating to "Earnings and wages in the UK".


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