Wage inequality lowest in Wales, says ONS figures

Wales has the narrowest gap for any part of the UK between the highest and lowest paid employees, according to the Office of National Statistics.

The highest paid 1% of Welsh workers earn on average £41.20 an hour, seven times the wage of the lowest paid Welsh workers on £5.91 an hour.

The inequality gap has narrowed since 1998, when the highest paid earned nine times as much as the lowest.

Across the UK, the richest employees earn 10 times more than the poorest.

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) has analysed earnings across the UK and across 25 years. It found that the average employee earns 62% more in real terms than they did in 1986.

The average full-time employee in the UK earned around £12.62 per hour excluding overtime, in April 2011.

That's a cash increase of 226% since 1986 when the average wage was £3.87 per hour.

Wales not only has the lowest ratio of wage inequality in the UK, according to these figures.

But also the wage gap in Wales has narrowed since 1998 when the highest paid employees earned more than nine times the rate of the lowest earners.

London has the greatest wage inequality with top earners getting more than 16 times that of low earners.

The statistics also show the jobs where you can earn the most - and least.

The highest paid are airline pilots and flight engineers, with average pay of £44.49 an hour.

Not far behind are chief executives and senior officials (£39.24 per hour) and advertising and public relations directors (£33.43).

Wales has fewer of these top jobs than other parts of the UK, notably London, which may explain the smaller gap between the earnings of our highest and lowest paid employees.

The ONS point out there may be individuals, such as sports stars and entertainers, who earn considerably more. Self-employed people also aren't covered in the statistics.

The lowest paid occupations in the UK economy in 2011 were waiters/waitresses and bar staff, where the average gross hourly pay was £6.25 excluding overtime.

The third lowest paid occupation is kitchen and catering assistants (£6.30 an hour).

The ONS says the average pay for these occupations reflects the skills needed and the numbers competing for jobs in these areas, which drives down wages.

Jobs that pay the most are usually being done by older people, who have developed skills over a number of years to become a senior official or chief executive.

The occupations paying the least have a higher concentration of younger people working in them.

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