Bonuses paid out across the economy rose nearly 5% from last year to more than £40bn, which means they now make up the biggest proportion of workers' pay packages since before the economic downturn.
The official figures are further evidence of a two-track economy: falling wages are masking booming pay deals for white-collar construction employees and other professional jobs, one of Britain's biggest recruiters, Hays, said on Thursday.
Total bonus payments climbed 4.9% to £40.5bn in the year to April compared with a year earlier, the Office for National Statistics said. Around £14.4bn was paid out by banks and insurers, up 2.9% over the year, where the average bonus was £13,300, up £700. Another £26.1bn of bonuses were paid in the rest of the economy, up 6.1%.
Miners and oil explorers were paid the second highest average bonuses, at £7,000 per person, although this was down £300 from the previous year. People working in education and health & social work received the lowest bonuses, which were described as "negligible" by the ONS.
Bonuses have increased to 6% of total pay in the year to April, the highest level since 2008 when bonuses made up 7.1% of pay. In the private sector, payments climbed 5.8% to £39.1bn while public sector bonuses fell by 16.3% to £1.3bn, partly reflecting the privatisation of Royal Mail in October 2013.
Private sector employees received just over £1,800 in bonuses on average, about seven times higher than the average public sector worker's bonus of just below £300. However, private sector workers have lower average regular pay than people working in the public sector, and their bonuses make up a bigger share of total pay than in the public sector.
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