Employee earnings in NI 2021

Date published: 26 October 2021

Measures of employee earnings, using data from the Annual Survey for Hours and Earnings (ASHE).

Employee earnings in NI 2021 report

Largest increase in weekly earnings on record

  1. Median gross weekly earnings for full-time employees in April 2021 increased by 8.8% from £529 in 2020 to £575 in 2021; the largest annual increase on record, following the largest annual decrease between 2019 and 2020.
  2. UK weekly earnings increased by 4.3% to £611. NI had the largest increase in earnings across the 12 UK regions over the year and has risen from the bottom of the UK earnings distribution to the middle, with weekly earnings now £36 below the UK average.
  3. Real weekly earnings in NI increased by 7.0% and are now around £50 higher than 2011, while real UK weekly earnings increased over the year to a lesser extent (2.6%).

Recovery in private sector pay after a decrease last year

  1. Increases in weekly earnings were recorded for both the public and the private sector (7.1% and 10% respectively), and across the spectrum of employees in both sectors. Although public sector earnings were more than a third higher than private sector earnings in NI, 2021 saw the smallest percentage difference between NI and UK earnings in the private sector in the last 20 years.
  2. 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.

Proportion of low-paid jobs in NI is the lowest on record

  1. Approximately a fifth (19%) 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 paid below the National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage in 2019 was 1.1%, this increased to 11% in 2020, but fell to 5.8% in 2021. However, almost 90% of those below these rates were on furlough rates of pay in the last two years.

When all employees considered, gender pay gap in favour of males in NI

  1. The gender pay gap for all employees (regardless of working pattern) in NI is in favour of males. Median hourly earnings (excluding overtime) for females (£12.36) was 5.7% below those for males (£13.11). This is the smallest gender pay gap on record, and lower than the 15.4% gap recorded in the UK.
  2. When results are considered by working pattern, full-time females earn more than full-time males and part-time females earn more than part-time males. The higher earnings for ‘all’ males is primarily due to a larger proportion of males (84% compared with 58% of females) in full-time work, which has higher hourly rates of pay on average than part-time employment and proportionately fewer low paid jobs.

Annual earnings increase over the year

  1. Median annual earnings increased by 1.7% for all full-time employees in NI over the year to £29,000, but remained lower than the UK median of £31,000. The highest 10% of earners earned approximately £53,000 and above.

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