Average Median Pay Up 9.1% pa Since May 2020

Published / Last Updated on 15/06/2021

The Office for National Statistics has released its latest figures on average levels of pay in the UK with average pay increases of 9.1% pa since May 2020.  Adjusted for covid-19, lockdown and furlough pay meaning a real increase of around 5.6% (going back to February).

  • The number of payrolled employees estimated for May 2021 rose by 0.5% compared with May 2020, a rise of 141,000 employees.  Since February 2020, the number of payrolled employees is down by 1.9%, a fall of 553,000.
  • There are 197,000 more people in payrolled employment in May 2021 compared to April 2021.
  • The median employees monthly pay estimated for May 2021 increased by 9.1% compared with May 2020 and increased by 5.6% compared with February 2020.
  • Between May 2020 and May 2021 there was a 126,000-person decreased in payrolled employees aged 25 and younger.
  • In May 2021 annual growth in payrolled employees was the highest in Cornwall and the Isle of Scilly, a rise of 3.4% and the lowest was in Outer London (West and North West) falling 2.7%.
  • The largest increase in payrolled employees between May 2020 and May 2021 was in the health and social work sector, a rise of 195,000 employees and the smallest in accommodation and food services sector falling by 187,000.
  • According to flash estimates between April and May 2021 3 sectors that had the largest decreases have all increased in payrolled employees since the start of the pandemic.
  • Accommodation and food services increased by 54,000 employees
  • Arts and Entertainment increased by 15,000
  • Wholesale and Retail increased by 14,000
  • Median pay annual growth for employees in May2021 saw other service activities sector the highest increase of 20.2% and households the lowest sector with a decrease of 1.9%

The number of payrolled employees estimated for May 2021 was 28.5 million, a rise of 0.5% compared with the previous year and a rise of 141,000 people over the 12-month period.

The number of payrolled employees increased by 0.7% in May 2021 equivalent to 197,000 people.

Annual growth in the number of employees remained between 1.0% to 1.5% from mid 2016 until 2019.  Prior to mid 2016, growth rates were higher than 1.5%.

Employee growth began to fall around early 2019 but slowed even more March 2020 and negative in April 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Growth rates have started to recover since the start of 2021 on the lower rates seen since the pandemic started, part of the recovery is because of the reduction in employees between March and May 2020 no longer contributing to the annual growth rate.

Median monthly pay estimates for May 2021 have decreased to £1,962 but compared to the same period last year an increase of 9.1%.

Between mid-2015 and mid 2018 increasing pay growth tended to fluctuate around 3,6%, Pay growth became negative for April and May 2020.  Recently median pay growth has increased and is now pre-coronavirus levels.

In the 3 months to April 2021

  • 10% of payrolled employees earned equal to or less than £682.00 per month
  • 90% of payrolled employees earned equal to or less than £4,667 per month
  • 99% of payrolled employees earned equal to or less than £13,184 per month


Inflation, Inflation, Inflation.  Worker shortages is pushing pay up as is demand for staff in hospitality sectors as the economy wakes up.  This means that inflation will push higher and we expect higher inflation figures from the ONS tomorrow.

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