The gender pay gap has fallen below the ten per cent mark for the first time since data has been collected.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) highlight that the gap actually stands at 9.1 per cent for full time employees with women’s hourly wage at an average of £11.91 and men’s at £13.11.
The narrowing of the gap was a result of women’s wages rising at a quicker rate than their male counterparts’ in the past year (1. 9 per cent compared to 0.8 per cent).
In terms of part-time work, women were actually found to earn more than men, with the pay gap standing at -5.6 per cent. Again women’s wages have risen quicker than men’s in the past 12 months, as last year the part time gap stood at -4.3 per cent.
It is thought that if wages continue to grow at the current level, women’s pay could overtake men’s by the end of the decade.
Commenting on the data, the Trades Union Congress’s general secretary Brendan Barber said that the shift was “very welcome”.
Howard Archer, chief UK and European economist at IHS Global Insight, added that things are “moving in the right direction” to help close the gender pay gap once and for all.
However, he said that people shouldn’t be complacent as there is still lots of work to be done.
“The suspicion remains that achieving pay parity between the genders will be a long and tortuous process,” he told the Telegraph.
Others were not so impressed with the data, with the Fawcett Group’s acting chief executive Anna Bird telling the news provider that disparities still exist and that the pay gap is “virtually unchanged” despite more the Equal Pay Act being introduced around 40 years ago.
The ONS data also showed that wages overall have grown at a slower rate than inflation this year. The average weekly wage for full-time employees in April was £501, up 0.4 per cent from £499 in 2010.