Median gross weekly earnings for full-time employees increased by 2.2% year on year to £539 in April 2016, according to research by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
Its Annual survey of hours and earnings: 2016 provisional results also found that, when adjusted for inflation, weekly earnings increased by 1.9% between April 2015 and April 2016.
The 2.2% rise in weekly earnings is the joint highest growth in earnings since the economic downturn, matching that experienced in 2013. When adjusted for inflation, however, earnings have not yet reached the peak seen in 2008.
Median weekly gross earnings increased by 2.2% for full-time employees in the year ending 5 April 2016, compared to 6.6% for part-time employees.
For the bottom 5% of earners, full-time gross weekly earnings increased by 6.2%. For this group, hourly earnings excluding overtime rose by 5.9% from £6.86 to £7.26 between 2015 and 2016. The increase among low earners has been attributed to the introduction of the national living wage.
Gross weekly earnings for men working full time were £578 in April 2016, compared to £480 for women. Median earnings for men and women increased by 1.9% and 2.2%, respectively, compared to 2015.
Annual earnings increased by 2.7% for women working full time in the year ending 5 April 2016, compared to an increase of 2.1% for men.
Fo full-time employees in April 2016, the gender pay gap for median earnings decreased to 9.4% from 9.6% in 2015, which is the smallest gap recorded since 1997. When part time employees are included in this figure, the gap decreased from 19.3% in 2015 to 18.1% in 2016.
The gender pay gap for full-time, high earners has remained consistent and is currently recorded at 18.8%. For low earners the gap decreased to 4.9% in April 2016, which is the biggest year on year decrease for this group since records began in 1997. The report suggests this is due to the introduction of national living wage.
Laura Hinton, head of people at PricewaterhouseCoopers, said: “It’s encouraging to see the gender pay gap reducing, but the underlying reasons for the gap remain the same. Women are still more likely to work part time, have lower paid jobs and leave the workforce after having children. Until we tackle these underlying causes it will be hard to reach true equality in the workplace.
“Businesses need to think creatively about how and where they hire people and the future of work, rather than reinforcing and repeating what they’ve always done. That way more people will be able to reach their full potential and businesses will inherently become more diverse and more profitable.”