Recent analysis of Office for National Statistics (ONS) earnings data by HR software provider Ciphr reveals which professions have experienced significant pay increases, which have struggled to keep up with inflation, and how these changes impact individuals’ purchasing power.

According to Ciphr’s research, only a quarter of full-time occupations in the UK have seen their hourly wages outpace inflation since 2021, with the nation grappling with an average inflation rate of 7.8 percent annually over the past 24 months, resulting in a cumulative increase of 16.2 percent. This means that for many workers, the purchasing power of their wages has effectively decreased.

Ciphr compared median hourly earnings (excluding overtime) for over 350 full-time occupations between 2021 and 2023.

The analysis revealed that a mere 26 percent of these occupations reported robust wage growth of 16.2 percent or more, effectively beating inflation. Some occupations even boasted hourly rate increases of 30 percent or more during this period.

Which industries have seen the highest wage growths?

Among the top performers in terms of wage growth were PR and communications directors, senior officers in fire, ambulance, prison, and related services, as well as IT directors. These professionals saw substantial increases in their average hourly rates, translating to significant jumps in their basic annual salaries.

However, while certain occupations experienced impressive wage growth, the majority of UK workers have not fared as well. The average worker received a more modest pay bump of 11.8 percent since 2021, with many occupations failing to keep up with inflation.

Occupations that experienced below-average wage growth, failing to match inflation rates, included clinical psychologists, cyber security professionals, and legal professionals, among others. These individuals faced real-terms pay cuts, exacerbating the financial strain caused by rising living costs.

Which industries haven’t performed as well?

Despite the notable wage increases seen in certain professions, many still fall short of the UK’s average hourly rate of £17.40. As a result, the real-world impact of these wage gains may be mitigated by the relentless pressure of inflation on living expenses.

For individuals curious about how their occupation’s pay compares to the national average, Ciphr offers a salary checker featuring over 350 occupations. This tool provides valuable insights into wage disparities across various professions, empowering workers to better understand their earning potential in today’s economic landscape.

In an era marked by economic uncertainty and fluctuating living costs, understanding one’s earning power relative to inflation is crucial for financial planning and decision-making. Ciphr’s research offers a glimpse into the evolving landscape of wage growth in the UK, highlighting both successes and challenges faced by workers across different industries.





Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.