Sunday 25 September 2016

Ireland's workplace: equal in some areas, work to do in most

Published 27/11/2015 | 02:30

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Ireland has made significant progress in real wage growth in the decade ending in 2014 - with caveats.

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The dispersion of those earnings, the gender pay gap, and the employment of our young people all still remain significant factors to address.

According to a new report conducted by Morgan Stanley which surveyed 20 countries based on their workplace equality, issues such as short hours are a cause for concern.

The report, 'Sustainable Economics: Mind the Inequality Gap', rates Ireland in the bottom half of the twenty countries surveyed which include 16 EU member states as well as the United States, Canada, Australia, and Japan.

Morgan Stanley set out to create a more accurate indicator of equality that dealt more specifically with the labour market than economists' measures such as so-called gini coefficients do.

Almost one in five (19.2pc) of Irish people aged between 16 and 24 are neither in employment nor in education or training (NEET), according to the report.

Only Spain, Italy and Greece have higher percentages in this category while Japan has the report-wide low rate of just 7.2pc.

The NEET figure is in line with unemployment figures from the Central Statistics Office with the current unemployment rate among youths standing at 20.7pc, 11.8 percentage points higher that the overall unemployment rates.

Another area in which Ireland falls down is involuntary part-time work. Ireland had a high rate of 5.6pc of the population participating in involuntary part-time work. Meaning that around 257,000 people across the country are in part-time employment where they'd rather work full time. This rate typically isn't as high in other countries with Norway having a very low rate of 1pc.

Morgan Stanley identified three areas which could both create opportunities to reduce inequality and further heighten the already existing inequality. Outsourcing, migration and technology were the areas it highlighted.

In its attempts to find a more accurate reading of equal states for workplace equality, it crowned Norway as the most equal. Norway performed strongly in most areas including unemployment amongst those with secondary education, a section it dwarfed Ireland in.

Ireland's secondary education unemployment rate stood at 12.3pc, considerably higher than Norway's 3.6pc.

In terms of the gender pay gap Ireland performs above the average with a 13pc gap between the median earnings of men and the median earnings of women.

Japan's gender pay gap was by far the largest among all the countries surveyed with a 27pc difference between the two sexes.

Outside of employment evaluations Morgan Stanley went into several other areas including the future of the middle-class and the future of luxury products.

The report says that the middle-class globally is being eroded by high debt and rising costs. It also says that the fear of job and retirement insecurity is greatly affecting the sector.

Morgan Stanley doesn't predict any risk to luxury brands from widening inequality.

It says that the rising pool of aspirational customers from Asia matched with the growth of entry-level luxury products will ensure the sector's security in the market.

A 25pc price increase in the products over the decade has also helped.

Irish Independent

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