Friday April 19, 2019
For the road ahead

Generational pay gap has increased by half in last 20 years


The pay gap between young and older workers has increased by more than half in the last 20 years, according to a new report published today to mark the 150th anniversary of the TUC.

The report shows that in 1998 the pay gap between over 30s and under 30s was 14.5% (£1.51 an hour in 2017 prices). However, in 2017 it had widened to 21.9% (£2.81 an hour).

The generational pay gap has increased in real terms from £3,140 in 1998 to £5,884 in 2017 for someone working a 40 hour week. It has grown by £2,744 over the last two decades.

Low-paid sectors

To mark its 150th anniversary, the TUC (which URTU is an affiliated member) is highlighting the challenges young people today face in the world of work, including low pay, insecurity and lack of progression.

The report reveals that young workers are increasingly likely to be concentrated in low-paid, low-skilled sectors, with few opportunities for progression

More than a third (36.1%) of under-30s are currently work in caring, sales or elementary occupations, compared to just over a quarter (25.8%) of over-30s.

The number of 21-30 year-olds working in low-paid industries like private social care (+104%) and hotels and restaurants (+80%) has shot up since 1998, even though today's young workers are the most qualified generation ever.

Lack of career progression

Today's report also features new polling of young workers which shows:

  • Just 3 in 10 (31%) have felt that their current job makes the most of their experience and qualifications.
  • 4 in 10 (38%) have had few or no training opportunities in the last year
  • 1 in 5 (21%) have worked on a zero-hours contract in the last 5 years
  • Nearly a quarter (23%) have struggled to earn enough to pay basic living costs, and 1 in 5 have skipped a main meal to make ends meet in the last year.
  • Because of concerns about finances: 22% have put off starting a family and 41% have put off buying or moving home.



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