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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 November 2007, 11:05 GMT
Average earnings at 457 per week
Wage packet with cash
The number of workers getting less than the minimum wage has fallen
The average pre-tax wage for a full time adult worker rose by 2.9% in the past financial year, to 457 a week.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said earnings for men in the UK were 498 a week, up 2.9%, while those for women rose by 2.8% to 394 a week.

However, once overtime payments are stripped out, basic pay rose faster for women than for men.

There was a slight drop, to 292,000, in the number of people being paid less than the national minimum wage.

That meant they amounted to 1.2% of all employees, the same percentage as in 2006.

Of these workers, 231,000 were aged 22 or older and were thus being paid less than the minimum wage for that age group of 5.35 per hour.

However, the ONS pointed out that this did not mean they were all being paid illegally.

"For example, it is not possible to identify people such as apprentices and those undergoing training, who are exempt from the minimum wage rate or are entitled to lower rates," said the ONS.

"If employees receive free accommodation, employers are entitled to offset hourly rates," it added.

Revision

The current minimum rates of pay under the national minimum wage are 3.40 per hour for 16 and 17 year olds, 4.60 per hour for 18 to 21 year olds, and 5.52 per hour for those aged 22 or over.

Pay below these levels is much more common among part-time workers who, in turn, are often women.

The ONS has made a substantial revision to its previous statistics.

Previously it had estimated that in 2006 there were 336,000 jobs being paid less than the minimum wage.

That has been revised downwards by 40,000 to 296,000.

It means that for the past three years the percentage of jobs paid less than the minimum wage has been steady at 1.2%.

Before the minimum wage was introduced in 1999 nearly 6% of all jobs were being paid below that level.



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