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Wages peak in late 30s

Wages peak in late 30s

Category: Money

Updated: 03/07/2014
First Published: 03/07/2014

This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.

As much as people may love their job, there's always one key motivator for getting up and into the office each day – the money. Being able to secure a decent income is the key to financial security, and of course, there's always the expectation that the further in your career you get, the larger your pay packet will be. But just when do earnings peak? And, more importantly, are you on course to get there?

According to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), last year workers' wages peaked when they were in their late 30s. Or 38 to be exact, with those of this age having the highest average earnings at £13.93 an hour. Gender plays a big difference, however, with men's earnings peaking at age 50 (at £15.54 per hour) while women saw the most income when they were 34 (at £13.19/hour).

Happily, however, it seems that equality is coming into the foreground, particularly in the younger age group. The difference between male and female's average pay (for those under 30) has reduced dramatically over the last four decades – in 1975, men over the age of 18 earned more than women at every stage, and at the age of 38 earned, on average, 61% more than their female counterparts.

Fast forward to 2013 however and the difference between men and women's pay remains largely at zero to the age of 30, with it only being after this point that wages start to digress – perhaps reflecting different working patterns past this age – with the peak difference being at age 49 when men earn 45% more.

The gender gap has not only narrowed sharply but incomes in general have increased dramatically since 1975 too, with average earnings for full-time employees more than doubling – even when accounting for inflation.

They're pretty positive figures, showing just how far earnings have come in a relatively short space of time. The recession has of course had an impact on typical pay, however, with younger workers being hit the hardest (those in their 20s earned, on average, 12% less in 2013 than they did in 2009), but it's hoped that the recovery will soon translate into people's earnings.

So, are you on track to maximise your earnings? Hopefully that answer is yes, no matter how far along the career path you are. While we can't help you get that pay rise, what we can do is help you make the most of the money you have.

Having the right savings account, for example, can ensure you're set up for the future (and can also provide a handy financial buffer should your earnings suffer), while the right mortgage, credit card or bank account can keep costs to a minimum as well as helping you budget. Check out our best buy tables to compare all those vital financial products and see if the income you've got can go further.

Disclaimer: Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.