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Notes

Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE)

Main uses

ASHE is the main source for data on pay, including low pay.

ASHE data across years cannot simply be combined to produce time trends.  This is because non-vatable companies were only included in the ASHE survey from 2004 onwards.  In consequence, the data for 2003 and earlier is considered to underestimate the prevalence of low pay and should therefore not be combined with the data for 2004 onwards to produce time trend analyses.  It is to partly fill this gap that ONS specifically publish overall UK-wide estimates of low pay by year, using ASHE data from 2004 onwards but a combination of ASHE and the Labour Force Survey for earlier years.

Although ASHE includes data about numbers of jobs, it should not be used for job estimate by industry etc as there are sources, such as ONS Labour Market Statistics, which are to be preferred.

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Source

In summary:

The actual ASHE dataset is not publicly available.  Rather, what is available is a whole series of tables published by the Office for National Statistics from the dataset.  100 to 200 spreadsheets sounds a lot but they are actually well-organised and numbered: each spreadsheet has a number in the form X.Y, where X is the level of the data and Y is the scope of the data.  In the 2006 tables, the various levels were:

Table number Type of table
Table 1.Y All employees
Table 2.Y Occupation
Table 3.Y Government Office Region by occupation
Table 4.Y Industry
Table 5.Y Government Office Region by industry
Table 6.Y Age
Table 7.Y Place of work by Local Authority
Table 8.Y Place of residence by Local Authority
Table 9.Y Place of work by parliamentary constituency
Table 10.Y Place of residence by Parliamentary Constituency
Table 11.Y Travel to Work Area - Work Based
Table 12.Y Travel to Work Area - Residency Based
Table 13.Y Public private sector
Table 14.Y Occupation - 4 digit SOC
Table 15.Y Work Region Occupation
Table 16.Y Industry - 4 digit SIC
Table 17.Y Work Training Enterprise Council - Work Based
Table 18.Y Work Training Enterprise Council - Residency Based
Table 20.Y Age by occupation
Table 21.Y Age by industry

And the various scopes were:

Table number Type of table
Table X.1 Weekly pay: Gross
Table X.2 Weekly pay: Excluding overtime
Table X.3 Basic pay: Including other pay
Table X.4 Overtime pay
Table X.5 Hourly pay: Gross
Table X.6 Hourly pay: Excluding overtime
Table X.7 Annual pay: Gross
Table X.8 Annual pay: Incentive
Table X.9 Paid hours worked: Total
Table X.10 Paid hours worked: Basic
Table X.11 Paid hours worked: Overtime

Within each spreadsheet, there are then 8 worksheets giving the data for various combinations of men/women and full-time/part-time.  This data covers:

Note that the data for 2001 and earlier is more limited than for 2002 onwards.

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General issues

Which tables to use

The key here is to read the fine print associated with each table.  There are, for example, noticeable differences in pay rates depending on whether overtime is included or excluded and whether the data is for all employees or only those on adult rates.

Within this, pay rates can be analysed in terms of:

How to derive proportions paid less than X

The tables do not directly provide data on the proportions of employees paid less than X where the value of X can be chosen to fit the required analysis.  Rather, they state take the form that 10%/20%/30%/etc are paid less than A/B/C.  The technique for using such data to estimate the proportion paid less than X is known as interpolation.  For example:

Arithmetically speaking, this 12.5% is calculated as 10% + (20% - 10%) * (6.50 - 6.00) / (8.00 - 6.00).

Note that this method cannot be used if the proportion is either less than the lowest proportion in the tables (usually 10%) or greater than the highest proportion in the tables (usually 90%).

 

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Specific issues

Analysis by region

Whilst a number of tables are available at a regional level, not all are.  In reaction, researchers can place data requests to ONS but these are largely restricted to geographic breakdowns for those tables which are only published on the UK-wide basis.

Analysis by local authority area

There are two types of local authority table, one by place of residence (i.e. where the employees live) and the other by place of work (i.e. where the employees work).  Particularly for local authority areas near the major cities, the results in these two types of table can be very different and care should therefore be taken to choose the one that is most appropriate for the analysis to be undertaken.

Analysis over time

Although, as discussed at the top of the page, ASHE data across years cannot simply be combined to produce time trends because non-vatable companies were only included from 2004 onwards, the 2004 tables are available both including and excluding non-vatable companies.  By comparing these two sets of results, adjustments can be made to the earlier data to put it on a comparable basis.

The ASHE tables for 1997 to 2001 are actually imputed from a different survey - the New Earnings Survey - as the ASHE survey itself only actually started in 2002.  But this does not mean that the New Earnings Survey data for years prior to 1997 can be directly compared with the ASHE data - the two surveys have different methodologies.

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Relevant graphs on this website

UK graphs

Indicator GraphsTable Comments
Young adult low pay third Table 6.6a - by age Requires interpolation to estimate the proportion paid less than X per hour.
Numbers in low pay third, fifth and sixth Table 6.6a - by age Requires interpolation to estimate the proportion paid less than X per hour.
fourth Table 2.6a - by occupation

Requires interpolation to estimate the proportion paid less than X per hour.

Location of low pay all Table 8.6a - by local authority (residency rather than place of work) Requires interpolation to estimate the proportion paid less than X per hour.
Pay inequalities first Table 7.6a - by local authority (place of work rather than residency)

For the time series, table 7.6a (by place of work) is used rather than table 8.6a (by residency) because it is only the former which is available for earlier years.

Adjustments are made to the pre-2004 data to put it onto the same basis as the data for 2004 onwards.

second and third Table 8.6a - by local authority (residency rather than place of work) Requires interpolation to estimate the proportion paid less than X per hour.

Estimated numbers of jobs paid less than X per hour are calculated by multiplying the estimated proportions paid less than X per hour by the total number of jobs as given in the ASHE tables.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland graphs

The graphs on pay inequalities are effectively a subset of the UK graphs but selecting the Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland rows in the spreadsheets rather than the UK-wide rows.  Ditto for the low pay graphs by local authority in Scotland and Wales.

The standard ASHE tables do not have data broken down by age for Scotland and Wales, so the data for the main low pay graphs comes from a request to ONS via earnings@ons.gsi.gov.uk.

Whilst the standard ASHE tables do not have data broken down by age for Northern Ireland, this data is available is available from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment website.  Ditto for the low pay graph by local authority in Northern Ireland.

 

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