Full-time workers’ weekly earnings have fallen in real terms for the first time in three years, and are £38 a week lower than before the financial crash in 2008, new figures show.
Median weekly earnings increased by 2.2% to £550 a week, but when inflation is taken into account, they are down by 0.4% on last year.
The TUC estimated that real wages are 7.9% below their 2008 level at an average of £38 a week, although in some areas, such as London, the figure was put at £68.
The gender pay gap based on median hourly earnings for full-time employees fell to 9.1%, from 9.4% in 2016, the lowest since the survey began in 1997, but for full and part-time workers the figure increased by 0.2% to 18.4%.
Sam Smethers, chief executive of the Fawcett Society, said: “At current rates of change we will never close the gender pay gap. This shocking lack of progress means without significant action women starting work today and in decades to come will spend their entire working lives earning less than men.”
The TUC said there was still a “chasm” between men and women’s earnings.
General secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The Government needs to crank up the pressure on employers. Companies shouldn’t just be made to publish their gender pay gaps.
“They should be forced to explain how they’ll close them and those bosses who flout the law should be fined.
“Most families still haven’t recovered from the financial crash, yet their pay packets are now taking another hammering. It’s leaving millions of working people facing hardship and getting deeper into debt.
“Public sector workers have had it especially hard, with real pay cuts for seven long years. The Chancellor must use next month’s budget to give them the pay rise they’ve earned.”
Weekly pay for part-time workers increased by 2.9% in the past year to £182, reported the Office for National Statistics.
ONS statistician Roger Smith said the 2.2% increase in median earnings was the joint highest since the economic downturn in 2008, in cash terms.
“However, higher inflation meant real earnings were down overall on the year for the first time since 2014.
“This wasn’t the case for everyone though. The lowest paid 10% of workers and those in some regions like the East Midlands still saw real increases, while other areas saw decreases.”
Stephen Clarke, policy analyst at the Resolution Foundation, said: “The failure of nominal wage growth to match increases in inflation has left real weekly earnings down on the year for the first time since 2014.
“The silver lining is good progress for lower-paid people, with the national living wage helping to boost pay packets.”
Debbie Abrahams, shadow work and pensions secretary, said: “Year after year people are worse off. Earnings have fallen again and real wages are lower than they were a decade ago.”
Minister for Women and Equalities Justine Greening said: “Eliminating the gender pay gap is key to building a stronger economy where everyone plays by the same rules. It is simply good business sense to recognise the enormous potential of women and to take action to nurture and progress female talent.
“That is why we have introduced a legal requirement for all large employers to publish their gender pay and bonus data by April 2018.”