From 2015 onwards, this trend slowed down, and inequality remained relatively stable, until 2021 and 2022 when the inequality in earnings again started to rise. This development is largely driven by higher growth in earnings at the top end of the earnings distribution and a slightly lower increase in earnings in the middle of the distribution. 

Regardless of how we measure differences or inequality in the distribution of earnings, the distance between the highest and lowest earnings have been on the rise.

There is a wide range of jobs included in the statistics on earnings that vary from apprentices in training, working students and retirees with part-time jobs. The mentioned groups are more frequently found in the lower part of the earnings distribution. Therefore, this report mainly focuses on full-time jobs that don’t include apprentices. As a result, the average and median earnings, slightly increase because we exclude lower paid jobs.

Several factors affect the observed earnings distribution. This report will highlight and describe how different characteristics utilized in the earnings statistics are distributed across lower and higher earnings levels. There are large variations in the distribution of wages across industries, sectors and regions. Among other things, we find a distinct relationship between wage levels and wage distribution across industries, where industries with high wage levels tend to have a higher wage inequality.

For instance, the Accommodation and Food Service Activities industry has lower earnings levels and significantly lower inequality within the industry, compared to industries with higher wage levels, such as Financial and Insurance Activities. Nevertheless, findings show that the majority of industries in the Norwegian labor market have earnings levels close to the average for all industries. Although inequality within different sectors and industries is more scattered, most industries have levels of inequality not far off what we find for the labor market as a whole.

We have also addressed the question of whether earnings are distributed differently when we study centrality as a geographical variable. Using centrality, we can examine differences in earnings distribution between rural areas compared to the most central, such as Oslo. Our findings show lower inequality in less central areas. However, the labor market differs in areas with a low degree of centrality compared to areas with a high degree of centrality, which subsequently affects the level of wage dispersion.

In 2022, almost one in four full-time jobs in the private sector were found either among the highest or lowest ten percent earnings. Simultaneously, over 95 percent of the one percent highest paying jobs were found in the private sector. Local government jobs were more concentrated in the middle of the wage distribution, while central government jobs were located from the middle and upward in the distribution. The location of the central government jobs is associated to the different tasks related to the jobs and the type of labour needed. 

Statistics compiled by OECD show that Norway, together with the other Nordic countries, are among the countries with the lowest level of inequality, regardless of the inequality measure used.