Full-time workers’ weekly earnings have fallen in real terms for the first time since 2014, new figures show.
Median weekly earnings are £550 a week, down by 0.4% on last year when adjusted for inflation.
The figure is 2.2% more than a year ago, reported the Office for National Statistics.
The gender pay gap based on median hourly earnings for full-time employees has fallen to 9.1%, from 9.4% in 2016, the lowest since the survey began in 1997.
Weekly earnings are 4.7% lower than in 2008 in real terms, the ONS reported.
Weekly pay for part-time workers increased by 2.9% in the past year to £182. The gender pay gap for full and part-time workers increased by 0.2% to 18.4%.
ONS statistician Roger Smith said the 2.2% increase in median earnings was the joint highest since the economic downturn in 2008, in cash terms.
“However, higher inflation meant real earnings were down overall on the year for the first time since 2014.
“This wasn’t the case for everyone though. The lowest paid 10% of workers and those in some regions like the East Midlands still saw real increases, while other areas saw decreases.”
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The full-time gender pay gap has inched a bit smaller but there is still a chasm between men and women’s earnings.
“At this rate it’ll take decades for women to get paid the same as men.
“The Government needs to crank up the pressure on employers. Companies shouldn’t just be made to publish their gender pay gaps.
“They should be forced to explain how they’ll close them and those bosses who flout the law should be fined.”
Stephen Clarke, policy analyst at the Resolution Foundation, said: “Today’s release confirms what we already knew about the return of the pay squeeze in 2017.
“The failure of nominal wage growth to match increases in inflation has left real weekly earnings down on the year for the first time since 2014.
“The silver lining is good progress for lower-paid people, with the national living wage helping to boost pay packets.
“Because more women are low paid they have disproportionately benefited from this boost, with the full-time gender pay gap ticking down once again to its lowest level since the survey began two decades ago.”
Gerwyn Davies, of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, said: “Despite good news on the gender pay gap, the latest figures show that there is much more to do in order to deliver genuine pay equality.
“This is particularly true when we consider that relatively few women work full time and that women still tend to be concentrated in low-paid sectors of the economy – especially among the over 30s.”
Debbie Abrahams, shadow work and pensions secretary, said: “Year after year people are worse off. Earnings have fallen again and real wages are lower than they were a decade ago.
“It has also failed women, who are still being paid on average nearly 20% less than men.
“The next Labour Government will immediately give millions a pay rise by introducing a £10 per hour real living wage, scrapping the public sector pay cap and taking action to close the gender pay gap.”
Sam Smethers, chief executive of the Fawcett Society, said: “At current rates of change we will never close the gender pay gap. This shocking lack of progress means without significant action women starting work today and in decades to come will spend their entire working lives earning less than men.
“It’s a loss they can’t afford and it’s a missed opportunity for our economy. Improving our performance on gender equality in the workplace could increase GDP by £150 billion.
“From April next year large employers will be required to publish their gender pay gap. That’s a first step to change but we need to see a complete overhaul in working practices, more support for women and men sharing care, and and end to lazy stereotypes, workplace harassment and discrimination that hold women back.”
Minister for Women and Equalities Justine Greening said: “Eliminating the gender pay gap is key to building a stronger economy where everyone plays by the same rules. It is simply good business sense to recognise the enormous potential of women and to take action to nurture and progress female talent.
“That is why we have introduced a legal requirement for all large employers to publish their gender pay and bonus data by April 2018. Some of our most well-known companies have already reported their pay gap including Virgin Money, TSB, Fujitsu and Weetabix.
“I’m now calling on employers across the country to get on with publishing their gender pay gap. By shining a light on where there are gaps, employers can take action and make sure that we are harnessing the talents and skills of men and women.”