James Moore: Pay gap is hard to solve

Outlook: A bit of a turn up for the books from the Office for National Statistics today. Its figures suggest that men in part-time work are actually paid less than women. The result? A deafening silence from the Equalities department. Where's Harriet Harperson when you need her, anyway? Before everyone gets too excited, it's worth noting that the difference is only 3.5 per cent (in favour of women). When considering all employees there is a pay differential of 22.5 per cent. And that's in favour of men.

The gender pay gap is still there, even if the traditional imbalance in one part of the economy appears to have been reversed, at least if you take the median average used by the ONS into consideration.

Unfortunately it appears to have no suggestions s as to why this might be. Professionals in good jobs going part-time after child birth, skewing the numbers in favour of women, might be one explanation. Or it might not. The trouble with these figures is that the explanations behind why they are where they are is rarely simple. And even where there are maladies that are easy to see, they don't always respond to simple cures. That's something Ms Harman and her colleagues (male and female) have never really understood.