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Now men see their pay fall

17 February 2017

Policy-makers need to recognise the frustration that many young men are feeling as they see their earnings drop below those of the previous generation, a leading think tank has warned.

Men born between 1981 and 2000 (so-called Millennials) are falling behind the generation before them in their early careers, the Resolution Foundation reports.

Millennial men have earned less than Generation X men (those born between 1966 and 1980) in every year between the ages of 22 and 30. The cumulative pay deficit during their twenties amounts to £12,500, the Foundation has calculated.

According to the think tank's Torsten Bell, the shortfall reflects a shift towards young men doing low-paid, often part-time work that has traditionally been done by women.

Both men and women have been affected by a reduction in some traditional mid-skilled occupations over the last two decades, he explains, with a 40% fall in young men (those aged between 22 and 35) doing routine manufacturing jobs and a 66% reduction in the number of young women working in secretarial roles.

However, although employment growth among women has overwhelmingly taken them into higher-skilled jobs, for men the growth between higher- and lower-paying occupations has been divided much more evenly.

The proportion of low-paid work done by young men increased by 45% between 1993 and 2015/16. During that period, the number of young men in retail jobs almost doubled (from 85,000 to 165,000) and the number working in bars and restaurants trebled (from 45,000 to 130,000).

The fact that they are the first generation to earn less than their predecessors is in part due to their coming of age in the midst of a huge financial crisis, Mr Bell noted. However, he added, the long-held belief that each generation should do better than the last is clearly under threat.

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