Northern Ireland

Low pay by gender

Graphs on this page:

Supporting information:

Key points

  • At all ages, at least a quarter of part-time employees were paid less than £7 per hour in 2010.  This is a much higher proportion than that for full-time employees.
  • Half of those paid less than £7 per hour were part-time workers, mainly women.  Of the full-time workers paid less than £7 per hour, two-fifths were women.
  • Although more common among young workers, low pay occurs at all ages.  The number of low-paid workers is similar in each of five age groups, namely, up to 21, 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50 and above.  As a result, around a third are aged 40 or over.

Definitions and data sources

As discussed in the indicator on low income by work status, two-fifths of people in working-age families in Northern Ireland who are in low-income households have someone in their household who is doing paid work.  It is clear that in-work poverty must be linked with low pay.  But exactly how?  Analysis for Great Britain shows that, while just 15% of low-paid workers lived in households suffering from income poverty, 65% of the households in in-work poverty were low paid.  Low pay is, therefore, a major cause of in-work poverty even though most people who are low paid do not suffer from it. 1

The first graph shows how the proportion of employees paid less than £7 per hour varies by age, gender and full-time/part-time.  Note that no precise estimate is available for part-timers aged 18 to 21.

The next two graphs show the distribution of employees paid less than £7 per hour.  In the second graph, the data is divided by male/female and full-time/part-time.  In the third graph, the data is show by age group and full-time/part-time.

The data source for all the graphs is the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE), noting that it is from the additional tables from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment website rather than the standard tables.

Overall adequacy of the indicator: high.  ASHE is a large annual survey of employers.


1. Source: analysis of Households Below Average Income.  Reasons why it is possible to be low paid and not in in-work poverty include: other adults in the other households earn more; long hours; lower than normal housing costs; tax credits.