The pay gap between men and women has blown out to be the biggest in 20 years, largely because of the hefty salaries paid in the mining and construction industries.

On average, men in full-time work are being paid nearly $15,000 more a year than women, data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows.

For part-time workers, the gender pay gap would be wider because a higher proportion of women are in casual jobs.

CommSec economist Savanth Sebastian says the pay gap is linked to large salaries paid in the mining and construction industries, which are traditionally dominated by men.

He said although pay rises in the mining sector have been slowing in the past year, it is still the best-paid industry.

"Now that the mining sector seems to be coming off, it's more of a combination of mining and construction that are the best paid, the more male-dominated industries," he said.

"To some degree, banking and finance as well - professional services."

Meanwhile there is very sluggish pay growth in industries which are traditionally dominated by women, such as accommodation, food services and retail.

"The mining wage is about two and a half times what you'd get in the retail sector," Mr Sebastian said.

Mr Savanth said the pay gap between men and women is likely to widen over the coming year as housing construction increases.

The pay gap between men and women increased by almost eight per cent in the 12 months to May, the fastest pace in three years, the ABS data showed.

Average ordinary full-time gross earnings for men came in at $1,560.50 a week, while women earned $1,274.40.

Men in the mining sector earned $2,585.20, while women workers received $1,970.20.

By Jason Cadden
Dulux Exsulite Construction – 300 x 250 (expire Dec 31 2017)