LONDON, Oct. 26 (Xinhua) -- The gender pay gap in Britain has reached its lowest level since 1997, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said Thursday.
But on average men still earned almost 10 percent more than women, the latest figures show.
In April 2017, weekly earnings for full-time employees in Britain were 550 pounds (727 U.S. dollars), up 2.2 percent which was the joint highest since the economic downturn in 2008, matching the figures for 2013 and 2016.
Adjusted for inflation, ONS said it meant full-time workers' weekly earnings decreased by 0.4 percent compared with 2016. This is the first time since 2014 that there has been a fall in this measure and reflects a higher level of inflation in April 2017 (2.6 percent) compared with recent years.
At the same time weekly earnings for part-time employees also increased in the past year by 2.9 percent to 182 pounds (240 U.S. dollars).
ONS said weekly pay packets this year grew more among the lowest paid workers, with their average earnings for full-time staff going up by 3.5 percent compared with 2016.
In April 2017, the gender pay gap based on average hourly earnings for full-time employees decreased to 9.1 percent from 9.4 percent in 2016, the lowest since the survey began in 1997, added ONS.
Pay levels in private businesses grew much quicker over the year.
Average weekly earnings for full-time employees in the private sector were 532 pounds (702 U.S. dollars), or up 2.8 percent on 2016, compared with a rise of 0.9 percent in the public sector to 599 pounds (790 U.S. dollars).
Average weekly earnings were highest in London, reaching 692 pounds (913 U.S. dollars) and lowest in Wales, North East England, Northern Ireland, Yorkshire and The Humber, and East Midlands, which were all around 500 pounds (660 U.S. dollars).
ONS statistician Roger Smith said: "This year saw the joint highest rise since the economic downturn in 2008, in cash terms. However, higher inflation meant real earnings were down overall on the year for the first time since 2014."
"This wasn't the case for everyone, though with the lowest paid 10 percent of workers and those in some regions like the East Midlands still saw real increases while other areas saw decreases," he added.
Whatsoever, "The gender pay gap fell to 9.1 percent among full-timers, the lowest since the present survey began in 1997," said Smith.
Frances O'Grady, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) said: "The full-time gender pay gap has inched a bit smaller. But there is still a chasm between men and women's earnings. At this rate it'll take decades for women to get paid the same as men."
"The government needs to crank up the pressure on employers. Companies shouldn't just be made to publish their gender pay gaps. They should be forced to explain how they'll close them. And those bosses who flout the law should be fined."
Analysis published by the TUC shows that the average woman has to wait nearly a fifth of a year before she starts to get paid, compared to the average man.