Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings 2020

Date published: 03 November 2020

ASHE 2020 released today

Full publication available here

Weekly earnings decrease in NI

  1. Median gross weekly earnings for full-time employees in April 2020 decreased by 1% from £535 in 2019 to £529 in 2020; the first annual decrease in weekly earnings since 2014 and the largest decrease on record.
  2. UK weekly earnings increased by 0.1% to £586. NI has the second lowest earnings of the UK regions, with weekly earnings £57 below the UK average.
  3. Real weekly earnings in NI decreased by 2.0% returning real earnings close to 2010 levels while real UK weekly earnings increased by 0.9% over the year.

Decrease in private sector earnings larger than decrease in public sector

  1. The decrease in weekly earnings over the year was driven by decreases in the private sector (3.2%). Decreases in pay were experienced across the spectrum for private sector workers, with those at the lowest 10% of the earnings distribution experiencing the largest decrease of 5.7% and those at the top 10% experiencing a 3.5% decrease. Over three-quarters of employees with the lowest 10% of earnings received furlough pay at a reduced rate in the survey period.
  2. Weekly earnings in the public sector decreased at a lower rate (0.9%). Public sector earnings remain above earnings in the private sector (34% higher, £619 compared to £463). 
  3. Some of the difference between earnings in the public and private sector is due to differences in the composition of the workforces. Many of the lowest paid occupations exist primarily in the private sector, while there is a larger proportion of professional occupations in the public sector. Furthermore, approximately a quarter of private sector employees in the ASHE sample were furloughed on reduced rates of pay during the survey period, compared to less than 1% of public sector employees.

NI had highest percentage of Low Paid jobs of all the UK regions

  1. Approximately a fifth of all jobs in NI were ‘low-paid’ (based on OECD measure of low pay). This is the lowest proportion in NI in 20 years but is the highest proportion of the 12 UK regions.
  2. The proportion of jobs below the National Minimum and National Living Wage increased from 1% in 2019 to 10% in 2020. More than 90% of employee jobs below this level were on furlough rates of pay during the survey period.

Eleventh year when the gender pay gap in NI has been zero or in favour of full-time females

  1. This is the eleventh year when the gender pay gap in NI has been zero or in favour of full-time females. Median hourly earnings (excluding overtime) for full-time females (£13.28) was 3.6% greater than those for full-time males (£12.82).
  2. NI remains the only region in the UK where full-time females earn more per hour on average than full-time males. In the UK as a whole full-time females earned 7.4% less than full-time males per hour.
  3. The gender pay gap in NI is driven by a larger proportion of full-time females working in higher paid occupations than males, and a larger proportion of full-time females than males working in the public sector. When all employees (full-time and part-time employees) are considered, the gender pay gap is reversed, and males earn more on average than females. This is because a greater proportion of females than males are in part-time work, where average pay is lower across all the occupation groups.

Annual earnings increase over the year

  1. Median annual earnings increased by 3.2% for all full-time employees in NI over the year to £28,000, but remained lower than the UK median of £31,000. The highest 10% of earners earned approximately £52,000 and above.

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