House of Commons Library

Average earnings by age and region

Published Friday, December 21, 2018

This statistical note shows how average earnings have changed over time by region of the UK and for different age groups.

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Summary tables provide data on earnings by gender, by age group and by region between 2008 and 2018. More detailed data can be accessed using the Earnings data tool.

Trend in average earnings

Median weekly pay for full-time employees in the UK was £569 at April 2018. This was 4.9% lower than in 2008 in real terms (i.e. after adjusting for inflation).

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.

Real median weekly earnings, 1997-2018Note: Full-time employees only. Dashed lines show breaks in series.

Regional differences

Median weekly pay was highest for full-time employees living in London and lowest for those in the North East at April 2018.

Median pay by region, 2018Note: Full-time employees only. Based on region of residence.  

However, London also saw the largest falls in median full-time earnings over the period 2008-2018 after adjusting for price inflation (“in real terms”). With the exception of Northern Ireland, median earnings are lower in real terms than in 2008 across all countries and regions of the UK.

% change in real median earnings, 2008-18Note: Adjusted for CPI inflation. Based on weekly pay for full-time employees only, by region of residence.

Pay for younger and older workers

Median pay was highest for full-time employees in their 40s at April 2018:

Median weekly pay by age, 2018Note: Full-time employees only.

This hides differences by gender. Among male full-time employees, median weekly pay was highest for people in their 40s at £707, compared to £630 for men in their 30s. However, median weekly pay for female full-time employees in their 40s (£571) was similar to that for women in their 30s (£575). Factors contributing to differences in male and female earnings are explored in the Library's briefing paper on the Gender pay gap.

Following the economic downturn in 2008, median earnings decreased in real terms across age groups. At 2018, real median pay for 18-21 year olds had regained its 2008 level, but earnings for older age groups remained lower than before the downturn.

Real median weekly pay by age group, indexed to 2008 = 100Note: Based on median weekly pay for full-time employees, adjusted for CPI inflation

Note the charts are not tracking a particular group of people over time. Rather they are comparing people aged 40-49 (say) in 2018 with people who were in that age group in 2008. Those aged 40-49 in 2008 will now be in their 50s.

Accessing the data

The summary tables below provide data on median weekly pay for full-time employees in each year from 2008 to 2018, by gender, by region of residence and by age group.

The summary tables also show the change in median pay 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 more specific data requirements beyond what is provided in the summary tables. Guidance on interpreting the estimates and the effect of survey error is provided within the tool.  


The data presented in this note are taken from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings. More timely (but 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.


Commons Briefing papers CBP-8456

Author: Feargal McGuinness

Topics: Employment, Pay

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