Pay's going up in the North East but men earn £100 a week more than women

The region's pay rise is the best in the country but may still lab behind the cost of living - and public sector workers had their salaries cut

Trades Union Congress TUC General Secretary Frances O'Grady
Trades Union Congress TUC General Secretary Frances O'Grady

Wages are rising faster in the North East than in any other part of England, official figures reveal today.

But the increase was due to private employers paying staff more - while public sector workers had their pay cut.

There also continues to be a massive gap in pay earned by men and women.

And wages in the North East continue to lag behind those in the south of England, as well as Scotland.

The figures were revealed by an annual survey carried out by the Office for National Statistics.

The median weekly salary for workers in the North East with a full time job is £479.10 - up by £9 a week compared to a year ago.

This is an increase of 1.9 per cent, a little higher than inflation which is currently running at 1.3 per cent, and the highest cash increase of any region.

However, an alternative measure of inflation, the retail price index which includes housing costs, is currently running at 2.3 per cent, suggesting the pay increase may be below the increase in the cost of living.

The median salary in the private sector rose in the North East from £439.90 per week to £458.90 per week, an increase of £19.

But public sector salaries actually fell, from £428.50 to £423.30, a fall of £5.20.

What’s more, there continues to be a massive gap in the amount earned by men and women.

Median pay for male full time workers in the North East is £519.60 per week, while for women it is £422 - almost £100 a week less.

Even so, the gender pay gap appears to be falling.

The statistics do not mean that women are paid less than men for doing the same job, as they may partly reflect men and women doing different jobs.

All the figures include every part of a worker’s pay, including overtime pay or bonuses.

Median salary is the salary earned by people in the middle of the income scale - half way between the highest paid and the lowest paid.

Jim Simpkin, secretary of Newcastle Upon Tyne TUC, said: “Statistics often don’t tell the whole story. The figures refer to median full time earnings, but what about part-time and zero hour contracts where hours are not always regular.

“The report compares male and female earnings but job cuts in the public sector adversely impact more woman.”

Nationally, the median weekly salary is £518. This is higher than in the North East, largely because wages are higher in the East of England, South East, London and Scotland, pushing up the national figure.

The official statistics also show that one in ten North East workers with a full time job have annual earnings of £14,056 or less.

Anybody earning £34,727 a year or more is in the top 25 per cent of earners in the region.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Ordinary households are not sharing in the recovery and the recession in their wages continues despite the economy’s return to growth.”

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls said: “Working people are worse off under David Cameron’s Government and millions face a further hit if the Tories win the election.

“David Cameron and George Osborne have promised to cut tax credits again while keeping a £3 billion a year tax cut for the top 1 per cent of earners.”

Nicky Morgan, the Minister for Women and Equalities, highlighted figures showing the gender pay gap had narrowed, but added: “There is more to be done and the Government will continue to work with industry to make sure it reduces even further.

“Women are vital to the success of our long-term economic plan and we need to make the most of their skills at every age.

“We have more women in work than ever before but businesses need to value diversity in their workforce and pay attention to the role of women.”

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