Government statistics for Wales have shown that household wealth, disposable income, and Gross Value Added (GVA) have increased over the last few years.
However, that’s not to say the economy is booming. Wales, and the UK as a whole, have struggled in recent months as prices and bills have hit record highs.
With increasing inflation and cost of living, it’s becoming harder for young professionals in Wales to afford to live by themselves, and thus, they are moving back home to live with their parents.
Therefore, we thought it would be interesting to explore what the average salary in Wales is, how it compares to the rest of the UK, and if there are any differences between wages for males and females. Let’s dive in.
Based on 2021 national statistics data from the Welsh government, the average salary in Wales stands at £29,265.60. This figure represents a £1,107.60 increase from the previous year. In comparison to the UK's average salary of £31,756.40, income in Wales is relatively lower, ranking as the lowest among all four UK nations—England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales.
When examining specific regions, Bridgend emerges as the area with the highest salary in the country, with full-time employees earning an average of £31,616 per year. On the other hand, the Vale of Glamorgan exhibits the lowest salary, with full-time employees earning £26,878 annually. Notably, despite sharing a border with Bridgend, there exists a significant £4,738 disparity in pay between the two locations.
Average salary in local areas
The areas with the highest salaries in Wales are predominantly located in the south of the country, with four of the top five being located in or around the capital.
The region with the highest salary in Wales is Bridgend, a beautiful area in the south, where workers earn £31,616 per year on average. In second place is Neath Port Talbot. It is located in the southwest of Wales and borders Bridgend, with workers being paid £31,033.60 on average. Following behind in third place is Wales’ capital city, Cardiff. On average, employers pay their workers £30,508.40 per year. In fourth place is a region located in the south-east of the country, Blaenau Gwent, where on average, a person earns £30,050.80. Rounding out the top five with £29,967.60 is Powys, a landlocked region that spans from the south to the mid-north of Wales.
The area with the lowest salary is the Vale of Glamorgan, with employees being paid £26,878 on average. In second-last place is Merthyr Tydfil. Located not too far from Cardiff, workers in this area will be paid much less for the same job than they would in other areas of the country, with an average salary of £26,936.00. Coming in at third-last is Rhondda Cynon Taf, with £27,050.40. This is another area that borders Bridgend but has drastically different average earnings. Rounding out the bottom five are Conwy and Pembrokeshire, with £27,232.40 and £27,664 respectively.
|Neath Port Talbot||596.80||31,033.60|
|Isle of Anglesey||549.50||28,574|
|Rhondda Cynon Taf||520.20||27,050.40|
|Vale of Glamorgan||516.90||26,878|
This average salary is calculated by looking at the median salary of full-time employees in the country. Proportionately, there are many more people earning lower salaries than those who are earning higher salaries. Due to this, the extreme high earnings can give an average value that is not representative of the population as a whole, whereas median calculations are not affected by extremes. This is why the median is used to determine the ‘average’ salary in government reports and records.
Average salary of Wales compared to the UK
Government data shows that Wales has the lowest average salary out of all UK nations. Scotland has the highest with £32,364.80, followed by England with £31,891.60, then Northern Ireland with £29,900, and finally Wales with £29,265.60. Considering the average UK salary is £31,756.40, workers in Wales are paid £2,626 less for the same amount of hours worked.
When it comes to regions within England, only two have lower average earnings than Wales – the East Midlands with £29,109.60 and the North East with £28,012.40. Areas in the rest of the country are paid more, particularly when considering London which has an average salary of £39,863.20.
|Weekly Earnings||Annual Earnings|
|Yorkshire and the Humber||£564||£29,328|
According to government statistics, the gender pay gap for all employees in 2021 was 9.2%. This is a 0.7% increase from the previous year, which means the gender pay gap has become worse. However, it should be noted that this figure is significantly lower than in 2011, when the gender pay gap was 14.2%, showing that meaningful headway has been made over the course of the last decade.
Of course, this data does not take into account the job title of both males and females, the industries the jobs are in, or if they receive other forms of compensation such as bonuses or paid overtime, which could skew the results.
|Hourly Earnings (40 hours per week)||Weekly Earnings||Annual Earnings|
Wales compared to the UK
The gender pay gap in the UK as a whole is 12.1% which shows that Wales is performing better than the UK average. However, when looking at the numbers for each country, Wales only ranks third.
Northern Ireland has the lowest gender wage gap out of all UK nations with only 1.2%, which is incredibly low compared to the UK average. Second, on the list is Scotland with 8.3%. Whilst it is not as low as Northern Ireland, the country is performing better than the UK average. In third is Wales with 9.2%, followed by England with 13.1%.
Undoubtedly, the high percentage of the gender pay gap in England is influenced by the South East and London, where there is a 15.7% and 15% difference between male and female salaries. It should be pointed out that although these regions have the highest salaries in the country, they also have the highest pay gap between genders. In comparison to England, however, Wales is performing much better, but there is still room to improve.
|Yorkshire and the Humber||574.90||491.10||83.80||14.6|
For the current 2022/2023 tax year, the bands and tax rates in Wales are the same as they are in England. Wales also has a Personal Allowance of £12,570, meaning earnings up until that amount has a tax rate of 0% – they are tax-free earnings.
|Tax Band||Taxable income||Tax rate|
|Personal Allowance||Up to £12,570||0%|
|Basic||£12,571 to £50,270||20%|
|Higher||£50,271 to £150,000||40%|
Wales has one of the lowest average salaries in the UK, with £29,265.60. It is considerably lower than the UK average of £31,756.40 and is outperformed by all but two regions in England. However, Wales does have a lower gender pay gap than the UK average and England, making headway on the front for equal pay between both males and females.