Income and Employment

(Produced by DCC Economy Team. December 2019)

Local income and employment data for Devon residents (County Council area excluding Plymouth and Torbay) shows that median average earnings remain below that of the UK, with the pay gap closing slightly for full-time earners, but increasing over all. This is linked to both higher levels of part-time working and a propensity to work in higher paid jobs out of area for some full-time employees.

Average full-time resident-based earnings in Devon for 2019 stand at £27,129 per annum compared to £30,353 for England. In some Devon districts full-time earnings are closer to the national level, with residents of Exeter, East Devon and the South Hams taking home on average, £29,749, £29,364 and £28,485 respectively. Levels in the past year have been rising fastest for full-time workers out-commuting for higher pay elsewhere from Districts such as Mid Devon, North Devon and Teignbridge, although earnings there remain low [1].

Workplace based earnings for full-time employees in Exeter are approaching the national average and employees in the area receive a median average of £29,534 per annum compared to £30,667 nationally. Workplace pay is significantly less in other Devon Districts and impacts particularly on those less able to travel longer distances for employment, or without the qualifications to take advantage of higher paid roles [1].

Higher overall residence-based earnings in Devon are centred along the M5 corridor and rail links at Exeter, Honiton, Totnes and Tiverton, with areas such as North Devon, Teignbridge, Torridge and West Devon continuing to earn significantly less.

Employment opportunities outside of each District support the earnings of residents, for example many residents in West Devon and the South Hams work in Plymouth and many in other parts of Devon often work in Exeter and further afield. Residence based pay is higher in every District in Devon than workplace based pay, with a differential of £86.80 per week in Mid Devon. The differential is lowest in both Exeter and North Devon.

Total Male – full time Female – full time Unemployment
Devon Number (£) 522.4 551.4 475.5 3.0%
Annual change (%) 5.1 3.1 9 15
UK Number (£) 584.9 628.4 527.8 4.1%
Annual change (%) 2.9 3.3 3.7 -2
East Devon 550 623.6 465.1 2.0
Exeter 570.6 575.5 519.5 2.8
Mid Devon 545.1 579 450 2.8
North Devon 483 500.8 444.7 2.2
South Hams 541.7 556.4 515.3 1.9
Teignbridge 520.6 522.7 484.1 2.4
Torridge 491.3 514.2 453.5 2.4
West Devon 505.3 502.9 NA 2.4

Table: Median Average Resident Weekly Earnings, 2018; Labour Force Survey Unemployment 2019.

Earnings from employment for residents in South Hams and Teignbridge have been failing to keep up with national increases in pay since 2013 for both full time and all workers, despite a rise in the past year in Teignbridge for full-time workers. Earnings for residents in terms of full-time pay in West Devon and for total earnings for all workers (including part-time) in North Devon and West Devon have also shown slow growth over the same period.

Pay has declined by 1.1% since 2013 in South Hams, compared with pay growth in Torridge of 35.4% over the same period, in what was then the lowest paid District in the country. Changes to the National Living Wage will go some way to explaining the uplift in Torridge, but its economy is now showing some very small signs of improvement across other indicators. High increases in residents pay in Mid Devon over the same period, point to a potentially significant increase in out-commuting for higher pay over the same period, with workplace pay locally remaining stagnant.

Disparities in resident earnings between men and women in Devon persist and on average women in full time jobs earn £75.9 less per week than their male counterparts. Nonetheless, between 2013 and 2019 female weekly earnings growth has outstripped that of males by approximately 20% to 8% for all earnings and 25% to 13% for earnings from full-time jobs only, indicating that the gap is closing.

Around 5% of Devon’s population lives within the most deprived national quartile (one-quarter). These areas include some parts of Exeter, Ilfracombe, Barnstaple, Bideford, Exmouth, Teignmouth, Newton Abbot, Tiverton and the very rural area of St Giles on the Heath [2]. There are, however, slightly fewer areas in Devon showing as within the most deprived 25% of areas nationally than in 2015 (the previous iteration of the data).

Within Devon, rural areas are generally more deprived compared to other rural areas in England, whilst urban areas are generally less deprived than urban areas nationally, although one neighbourhood in Ilfracombe remains among the most deprived localities of anywhere in England. Lower earnings and above average house prices also contribute to a high house price ratio of 9.6 compared to 8.0 in England, which reaches 11.7 in South Hams [3].

Economic activity remains very high in Devon with 84.2% of 16-64 year olds identified as available to work. Employment in Devon remains high at 81.6%, above the national average at 78.9%. Although changes have been made to the methodology for counting unemployment, as well as the roll out of Universal Credit systems, unemployment is low and both metrics are below the national average. Labour Force Survey unemployment estimates 3% of Devon residents to be unemployed, while a total of 1.6% are claiming out of work benefits.

Within the County, Exeter has the highest rate of LFS estimated unemployment at 2.8% compared to South Hams at 1.9%. A higher proportion of Torridge residents claim out of work benefits (2%) than in South Hams (1.3%). While levels of claimants remain low and below the national average, there have been significant increases in levels across all of Devon in the past year and especially in Teignbridge [4].

[1] ONS Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings 2019
[2] Indices of Multiple Deprivation, 2019
[3] ONS House Price Ratio, 2018
[4] Claimant Count Unemployment, October 2019