LONDON: The gender pay gap for the under-30s is closing because young men are shifting into low paid and part-time work previously dominated by women. Men in their 20s still earn more, on average, than women of the same age but new research from the Resolution Foundation’s Intergenerational Commission has found that they will have earned on average £12,500 less by the time they reach 30 than men of the generation before them. The report is the latest of a growing number of studies that has found those reaching adulthood at the start of the 21st century face a poorer future than previous generations: fewer own homes, their pensions will be less generous and income growth slower. There has been a fall in traditional “mid-skill work” for both men and women: between 1993 and 2016, the number of young women in secretarial roles has fallen 66 per cent while the number of young men in routine manufacturing jobs has fallen 40 per cent. Women under 30 have had modest pay growth, because they have moved into better paying sectors. The number of women in their 20s working in business and finance has almost doubled between 1993 and 2016 from 175,000 to 325,000 and the number in teaching has increased by 120 per cent from 140,000 to 310,000. For men, on the other hand, average wages have fallen, as the proportion of low paid work done by young men has increased by 45 per cent.
The number of men in their 20s in retail jobs has doubled from 85,000 to 165,000 and the number working in bars and restaurants has trebled from 45,000 to 130,000. This means the gender pay gap is shrinking for the under-30s, mostly because average pay for men has fallen. “The long-held belief that each generation should do better than the last is under threat. Millennials today are the first to earn less than their predecessors,” said Torsten Bell, executive director of the Resolution Foundation. Partly that is because millennials came of age during the financial crisis, he said, but it also reflects major changes to the way people work that have pushed young people into more casual and low skilled jobs. “The fact that young women have bucked this trend by moving overwhelmingly into higher-skilled roles is welcome and suggests that the disruptive force of automation has met its match in the forward march of education and feminism,” he said.