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East Anglia Future 50

'Generational pay gap' in region more than doubles in 20 years

PUBLISHED: 17:52 24 August 2018 | UPDATED: 17:52 24 August 2018

Workers over 30 in the East of England are earning more than 20% more than people under 30 on average, new research shows. Picture: Getty Images

Workers over 30 in the East of England are earning more than 20% more than people under 30 on average, new research shows. Picture: Getty Images


The pay gap between young and older workers in the East of England has increased by half in the last 20 years, according to a new report.

Workers over 30 in the region now earn an average of 21.6% more than workers under 30, compared to 9.5% in 1998.

Analysis by the TUC shows that in 1998 the pay gap between over-30s and under-30s in the region was £1.06 an hour in 2017 prices. However, in 2017 it had widened to £2.64 an hour. This means the generational pay gap has increased in real terms from £2,205 in 1998 to £5,491 in 2017 for someone working a 40-hour week.

The reason for the pay disparity may be the types of jobs that young people are undertaking. Nationally, more than a third of under-30s currently work in caring, sales or elementary occupations, compared to just over a quarter of over-30s.

Since 1998 there has been a huge increase in the number of 21 to 30-year-olds working in low-paid industries such as private social care (+104%) and hotels and restaurants (+80%) – even though today’s young workers are the most qualified generation ever.

TUC regional secretary for the East of England Sam Gurney said: “Young people are getting a raw deal at work. Too many are stuck in low-paid, insecure jobs, with little opportunity to get on in life.

“This is the most qualified group of workers ever. But huge numbers of hardworking young people are struggling to meet basic living costs.”

Jordan Holder, 22, works as enterprise coordinator for The Careers and Enterprise Company in Ipswich, where the problem of social mobility for young people is particularly acute.

“Despite being the most qualified generation ever, we are facing setbacks like no other: temporary contacts, the gig economy, social mobility, job insecurity and never being able to get an ‘affordable’ home,” he said.

“It’s well known that across the East of England, there are low-paid and low-skilled roles. However, this does not make it acceptable for highly qualified young people to be paid less than older counterparts who are doing the same role.”

Mr Holder believes that lifelong learning is the key for young people to earn a bigger pay packet. “To earn more you need to learn more, whether this be through on the job training, apprenticeships, or traditional routes such as university and professional courses.”

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