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.

According to 2021 national statistics data from the Welsh government, the average salary in Wales is £29,265.60. This is £1,107.60 higher than it was the previous year, however, when compared to the average salary in the UK of £31,756.40, income in Wales is considerably lower and is the lowest out of all four UK nations – England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales.

The area with the highest salary in the country is Bridgend. Full-time employees in the coastal region earn £31,616 per year on average. On the flip side, the region with the lowest salary in the country is the Vale of Glamorgan, where on average, full-time employees earn £26,878 per year. Although the Vale of Glamorgan shares a border with Bridgend, there is a £4,738 difference in pay between both places.

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.

AreaWeekly Earnings
Annual Earnings
Wales562.8029,265.60
Bridgend60831,616.00
Neath Port Talbot596.8031,033.60
Cardiff586.7030,508.40
Blaenau Gwent577.9030,050.80
Powys576.3029,967.60
Flintshire574.5029,874.00
Denbighshire570.8029,681.60
Wrexham564.5029,354
Torfaen563.3029,291
Gwynedd56229,224
Monmouthshire556.6028,943.20
Swansea549.5028,574
Isle of Anglesey549.5028,574
Ceredigion549.4028,568.80
Carmarthenshire547.5028,470
Caerphilly542.5028,210
Newport540.6028,111.20
Pembrokeshire53227,664
Conwy523.7027,232.40
Rhondda Cynon Taf520.2027,050.40
Merthyr Tydfil51826,936
Vale of Glamorgan516.9026,878

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 EarningsAnnual Earnings
United Kingdom£610.70£31,756
Scotland£622.40£32,364
Northern Ireland£575£29,900
Wales£562.80£29,265
England£613.30£31,891
London£766.60£39,863
South East£635£33,020
East£601.90£31,298
West Midlands£585£30,420
North West£575.80£29,941
South West£572.50£29,770
Yorkshire and the Humber£564£29,328
East Midlands£559.80£29,109
North East£538.70£28,012

Wales

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 EarningsAnnual Earnings
Male£14.13£565£29,380
Female£12.83£513.30£26,691.60
Difference£1.3£51.70£2,688.40
Percentage9.2%9.2%9.2%

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.

MaleFemaleDifferencePercentage
United Kingdom625.20549.5075.7012.1
Northern Ireland555.90549.506.401.2
Scotland623.90572.4051.508.3
Wales565.00513.3051.709.2
England632.40549.5082.9013.1
North East551.70490.0061.7011.2
North West593.10522.7070.4011.9
South West585.40505.8079.6013.6
East620.40535.5084.9013.7
West Midlands600.50516.9083.6013.9
Yorkshire and the Humber574.90491.1083.8014.6
East Midlands572.10486.8085.3014.9
London816.60694.10122.5015.0
South East665.90561.20104.7015.7

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 BandTaxable incomeTax rate
Personal AllowanceUp to £12,5700%
Basic£12,571 to £50,27020%
Higher£50,271 to £150,00040%
Additionalover £150,00045%

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.