Women are still losing out despite rising North East wages, a salaries survey has revealed.
Pay in the North East is growing faster than the UK national average, with wages for the region’s 100,000 manufacturing workers rising at more than double the overall regional average, a survey by employment group Manpower has shown.
And while average pay across the North East rose 2.1% - faster than a national 1.6%, rise - annual pay in the region overall is still nearly £4,000 lower than the UK average of £27,200.
The news is worse for women. Strong pay growth in the manufacturing sector – and the fall in health and social work pay - is thought to be contributing to an increasing pay gap between the region’s men and women. Average annual pay for men in full-time work rose 2.8% to £30,800, while women saw their pay rise 1.4%, to £25,000.
Manpower’s figures come after concern amid rising unemployment in the North East, one of the few regions to buck the national trend, alongside growing calls from Labour and the unions for the Government to address stagnating wages.
The TUC has been highlighting what it says is a growing problem of female unemployment. Northern TUC policy director Neil Foster said: “This new analysis contains some good news particularly for those with jobs in manufacturing, but this shouldn’t mask the fact there are now 5,000 fewer manufacturing jobs in the region since 2010.
“Manpower Group is right to highlight the important gender implications of falling pay in female dominated sectors such as social care. When put alongside rising the female unemployment in the region it looks women are missing out more than most on any recovery in the North East.
“Unions, government and councils commissioning services all have a big role to play in encouraging decent pay through the design and enforcement of fairer contracts in social care. However this also requires public services to be properly funded and this is a task made considerably harder when the Coalition is slashing local budgets.
“Everyone deserves fair pay for the work that they do but there’s also an economic case for it too. The success of many businesses in our towns and high streets depends upon higher local spending power, job security and confidence from customers.”
Workers in the North East’s largest sector, health and social work – who represent nearly 1 in 5 of those employed in the region – saw pay fall by 5.6% last year, to an average of £22,700.
Jason Greaves, operations director of Manpower UK, said: “An important reason for this growing gender divide is that many of the roles and industries which have thrived in the region in recent years still tend to be male-dominated, so it follows that the sharp pay rises in this sector will be enjoyed by more men than women. However, we are encouraged by some moves in the sector to support female workers, such as establishing ‘return to work’ programmes to encourage more women back into employment after taking time off to start families. In contrast, around three times as many women compared to men are employed in health and social work, so falling pay in the sector hits women hardest.”