New figures have highlighted the huge difference between the amount men and women can expect to earn over their lifetime – a gap that is widest when women are in their fifties: the time when many people are saving the most for their retirement.
The latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that the average female worker’s lifetime earnings are 59% of what the average male takes home – adding up to £263,000 less than the average man throughout their lifetime: male workers earn an average of £643,000 in that time, compared to £380,000 for women.
The stats also show that in 2018 average lifetime earnings for the UK workforce overall grew at the second-slowest rate since 2004.
There is also a gap between those who have first and second University qualifications: workers with master’s degrees or PhDs have earnings typically about 10% or £65,000 higher than those with undergraduate or equivalent degrees… but women with master’s or PhD qualifications still had average lifetime earnings around 30% less than men with the same qualifications.
New analysis from over 50s recruitment and advice agency Rest Less based on ONS figures also reveal that the gender pay gap is at its most extreme for women in their 50s, with women’s average salaries at that stage being 28% – or £12,509 – lower than men’s.
Women’s salaries drop by 8% in their 50s while men’s drop by half of that amount: just 4%. Both sexes achieve their peak full-time salaries in their 40s: for women this amounts to £34,665 and for men it is £46,213, a difference of £11,548 or 25%.
Changes to the State Pension Age have helped fuel another radical shift: the number of women working in their 50s and 60s has shot up by 75% in the last 20 years, from 2.7 million in 1999 to 4.8 million. The average age of retirement for women now stands at just one year below that of men.
Stuart Lewis, founder of Rest Less, commented: “Women in their 50s are facing a tough time in the workplace. Our latest research shows that women in their 50s are taking a double hit when it comes to their salaries, caused by both gender and age discrimination,” he added.
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