The UK’s hardest working industries – and the most lucrative

Research by payroll software experts, Staffology, reveals which UK industries work the most for the least amount of money. While all jobs can be stressful, these are the ones that have the least financial gain.

The data shows that agriculture, forestry and fishing is the industry that works the most and earns the least, earning only £310.96 if working the nation’s average 32 hour week. Comparing the hours worked to the industry of financial, insurance and real estate activities, they would earn £1,364.90 in the same amount of time – an increase of 338.93%. As an additional blow to the work/life balance of agriculture, forestry and fishing, they were found to also work the most hours, at 42.5 hours a week; 10.5 more than the national average.

The research also revealed how the construction industry has seen the largest increase in the number of hours worked, which rose by 4.3 hours a week on average from 2020 to 2021. From 2019 to 2020 though, which includes the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, construction as an industry took a hit of 5.6 hours from their week. In fact, from 2019 to 2020, all industries lost an average of 3.46 hours a week. Fortunately, 2020 to 2021 showed a positive rise, with 2.15 hours more on the national average working week, which also reflected an average rise in weekly salaries, from £636.53 to £679.63.

5 Hardest Working Industries (Weekly Earnings Based on a 32 Hour Week):

  1. Agriculture, forestry and fishing: £311.96
  2. Accommodation and food services: £385.84
  3. Human health and social work activities: £516.92
  4. Administrative and support services: £527.89
  5. Other Services: £571.52

5 Most Lucrative Industries (Weekly Earnings Based on a 32 Hour Week):

  1. Financial, insurance and real estate activities: £1,364.90
  2. Mining, energy and water supply: £1,047.35
  3. Information and communication: £877.30
  4. Professional, scientific and technical activities: £792.43
  5. Education: £691.96

For those looking for a better balance of working hours and salary, education was found to be the best industry. Using the average pay for a 32-hour working week of £669.45, education was the closest to this figure at £691.96. The hours worked for the industry were also 4.91 below the average across the UK.

While the average hours worked across all industries in the UK in 2021 were at 32, the majority of industries exceeded this. The average was achieved by the low amount of working hours in accommodation and food services, which was an average of 20.9 hours a week. This is mostly due to the knock-on effects of the COVID-19 pandemic that hugely impacted working hours for the industry going from 28.4 working hours a week to 18.9 in 2019 and 2020.

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