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Thursday, 26 October, 2000, 15:02 GMT 16:02 UK
Earnings gender gap narrows
Silhouette of female medic
High-level medics are among Britain's best paid women
Women have closed the earnings gap with male workers, reports an official survey which shows the average wage has grown to 21,800 a year.

The salaries of women in full-time work rose by 3% in the year to April, compared with 2.1% for their male colleagues, the Office for National Statistics said on Thursday.

Among part-timers the difference was even more marked, with women gaining 5% wage increases over the year while men's pay stayed the same.

But the average salary of British women in permanent jobs is, at 17,500 before tax, still only three quarters that of male workers.

Salaries for male staff reached 24,300 in April, with men in non-manual jobs taking home an average of more than 30,000 a year.

Gap still closing

But, with women working less overtime, the wage gap in terms of hourly earnings closed to 2.02 per hour in April compared to 2.07 per hour the year before.

Average salaries
Male, non-manual: 30,200
Female, non-manual: 19,200
Male, manual: 18,000
Female, manual: 12,000

Data for full-time workers

"In 1998 the hourly rate differential between the sexes widened for the first time in over 10 years," the ONS New Earnings Survey said.

"This year the differential has narrowed again, following the narrowing seen in 1999."

Male manual workers in particular bolstered earnings through working extra hours, earning 12.4% of their pay through overtime, compared to 1.6% of pay for females with non-manual jobs.

But the pay of manual workers overall fell behind that of other earners.

"To put this disparity into context, as well as earning on average 144 [per week] less than their non-manual counterparts... manual employees worked an average five extra hours a week," the ONS said.

Overall, men with full-time jobs worked an average of 41.1 hours a week, compared to 37.3 hours for women.

Managers and medics prosper

Treasurers and company managers, with salaries of 60,000, proved the highest paid men covered by the survey.

The ONS said that while higher-paid occupations doubtless exist, there were too few of them in the survey, which covered 1% of employees, to allow meaningful comparison.

The highest paid women identified were medical practitioners, earning an average of 43,500 a year.

Kitchen porters, with average salaries equivalent to 9,500, were the lowest paid men. The lowest paid women, were bar staff, earning 9,000 on average.

But the survey shows that the gap between Britain's lowest and highest paid workers closed, in percentage terms, over the year.

Pay for the lowest earners climbed 4.2% year-on-year, while the pay of the top 10% of workers rose 2.2%.

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