Earnings in Scotland 2019

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The latest results from the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) were released on 29 October 2019. ASHE is the Office for National Statistics’ (ONS) main measure of earnings. It provides statistics on earnings by sex, age, occupation, industry and region. ASHE uses Pay As You Earn (PAYE) data to identify representative sub groups of employers and employees who they then survey to get information on employee hours and earnings.

The published headline ASHE estimates use median gross weekly earnings data for full-time employees. However, as not everyone works full-time, this blog looks at the gross weekly wages for all employees.

How does Scotland compare to the other nations and regions of the UK?

The 2019 figures show that median gross weekly pay for all employees who work in Scotland increased by 3.6% to £470 from 2018. When adjusted for inflation, using the April 2019 CPIH figure, wages increased by 1.6% over the year. At £470 per week, Scotland has the highest earnings of all UK regions outside of London and the South East of England, but is slightly below the average figure for England as a whole.

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ASHE also provides data on earnings for those who live in Scotland (residence-based data). This is useful as income tax is now partially devolved, and ASHE figures can give us an idea of how changes may affect the Scottish Fiscal Commission’s (SFC) forecasts for Scottish income tax, which underpin the budget.

The latest data shows that residence-based earnings have increased more quickly in Scotland over the year than for the whole of the UK. However, earnings at the top end are still lower in Scotland than in the UK as a whole. The Fraser of Allander Institute look at this in more depth in their blog on Latest data on earnings growth and possible implications for the Scottish budget

How do earnings compare across industries?

Earnings in the “Mining and Quarrying” industry, which includes the extraction of oil and gas, have the highest weekly pay in Scotland, despite seeing a slight real terms decrease over the year. “Public Administration and Defence” has seen the largest decrease over the year, falling in both cash and real terms.

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How do earnings vary across the country?

When looking at place of work analysis, Aberdeen has the highest pay levels of all local authority areas, with West Lothian and Edinburgh coming in second and third. Inverclyde has the lowest level of place of work pay.

However, when looking at analysis of pay by residence, East Renfrewshire has the highest rate of pay, underlining the importance of commuting for the area. Inverclyde also has the lowest residence pay.

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You can find further analysis in the Earnings in Scotland 2019 SPICe briefing.

Andrew Aiton, Data Visualisation Manager