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Pay gap between young and old workers up 50% in 20 years

Paloma Kubiak
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Paloma Kubiak

The pay gap between the under-30s and over-30s has risen by more than half in the last two decades, according to the TUC.

In 1998, the pay gap between over 30s and under 30s stood at 14.5% (£1.51 an hour in 2017 prices). However, in 2017, the gap had widened to 21.9% (£2.81 an hour).

As such, the TUC said the generational pay gap has increased in real terms from £3,140 in 1998 to £5,884 in 2017 for someone working a 40-hour week. It’s grown by £2,744 over the last 20 years.

The trade union said young workers are more likely to be in low-paid, low-skilled sectors with few opportunities for progression, despite this generation being the “most qualified generation ever”.

Its poll of young workers revealed that just three in 10 felt that their current job makes the most of their experience and qualifications, while 38% said they have had few or no training opportunities in the last year.

A fifth have worked on zero-hours contracts in the last five years and 22% said they have put off starting a family because of concerns about finances.

Worryingly, 23% have struggled to earn enough to pay for basic living costs and one in five have skipped a main meal to make ends meet in the last year.

The report comes as the TUC celebrates its 150th anniversary. It has also revealed a fall in union membership among young people.

TUC general secretary, Frances O’Grady, said: “We’re creating a lost generation of younger workers. Too many young people 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 – and many more can’t afford a home of their own or are putting off having children.

“150 years on from the founding of the TUC, joining together in a trade union is still the best way to get a better deal at work. But unions need to reach out to the young workers in workplaces where there isn’t a union.”