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Gender Pay Gap Narrows

November 11 2005 - The 2005 Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE), published by the Office for National Statistics shows a fall in the gender pay gap. The median gender pay gap has fallen from 17.4% in 1998 to 13.2% in 2005. However, gaps between public and private sector workers and high and low earners are widening.

Minister for Women Tessa Jowell said:

"It is excellent news that the gender pay gap is now at its lowest level in 30 years since the introduction of the Equal Pay Act.

"In 1975, women earned 70p for every £1 a man received, while today women receive 83p.

"The pay gap has fallen from 17.4% in 1998 to 13.2% in 2005. Women now earn an average of £9.82 an hour and men £11.31 an hour.

"But there is obviously still more to be done. This shows that government policies to address the reasons why the pay gap has existed for so long are working: the minimum wage, flexible working, and better maternity and paternity leave.

"But there is no room for complacency; we must close the pay and skills gap further to ensure women have higher lifetime earnings and higher pensions.

"Our next step will be to take forward the recommendations from the Women and Work Commission's Report, which we look forward to receiving in January."

John Philpott, Chief Economist at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development argues that employers and the Government should draw lessons from the new figures:

"Despite good news on the gender pay gap, the latest ASHE nonetheless shows that there is considerable scope for further progress toward genuine pay equality, particularly if one considers that relatively few women work full time and that women as a whole still tend to be concentrated in low-paid sectors of the economy.

"While encouraging high reward for high performance, the widening gap between top earners and those struggling in the bottom reaches of the labour market highlights the need for much greater effort to improve the basic skills and earning power of less skilled workers.

"And although everyone recognises the valuable contribution made by public sector workers, at a time of slower economic growth and rising public borrowing, the ASHE figures indicate that the Chancellor can now make a strong case for taking a tougher stance on public sector pay."

Commenting on figures published Brendan Barber, TUC General Secretary, said:

On the gender pay gap: "We welcome the fact that the full-time gender pay gap has narrowed slightly, which is partly the result of more women succeeding in higher paid occupations. But this is no cause for complacency. Part-time women are still as badly paid as ever."

On low pay: "Well paid people's earnings are growing twice as fast as those of the lowest paid. If the government is going to meet its target for reducing child poverty then the benefits of historic economic stability and employment growth will have to be better shared. To lift the quality of life for the lowest paid the minimum wage must continue to increase and in work benefits should rise in line with earnings rather than inflation. But the government must also work with trade unions to bring more high skilled, quality jobs into the economy."

ONS figures are available at:


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