Business Irish

Sunday 15 September 2019

Average pay reaches new peak of almost €39,000 a year

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Stock image

Anne-Marie Walsh

The average worker's pay has reached a high point of almost €39,000 as earnings soared by 8pc in the last five years.

New official figures reveal that earnings have peaked since official records began 10 years ago.

Average wages hit €745.09 a week, which equates to a yearly figure of €38,878, between April and June this year according to the latest official figures.

A Central Statistics Office spokesperson confirmed that the wage figure last June was the highest recorded since the 'Earnings and Labour Costs' survey began in 2008.

Preliminary figures show a slight drop to €740.32 a week since then, but these figures will not be finalised until the new year.

Earnings rose by more than 3pc in the last year suggesting that average pay rises have surpassed recent levels of between 2pc and 2.5pc.

However, the figures may reflect increases in hours worked and include other elements of wages apart from basic pay, like overtime and bonuses.

The figures were released amid warnings that wage levels are becoming unsustainable and workers could face emergency pay freezes in sectors most vulnerable to Brexit.

Pay rises are growing faster than inflation, ranging from 2pc to 2.75pc this year, with some 3pc hikes. Similar increases are likely next year.

Former Ibec negotiator Brendan McGinty claimed the rate of increase in pay is not justified by increases in the cost of living. He said little extra productivity by staff is being offered in exchange for the increases in agreements with unions, particularly in Irish-owned companies.

"I'm not surprised by the figures but the issue is the affordability of the increase over the short to medium term, particularly in sectors that could be very severely impacted by Brexit," he said.

"In a tighter labour market, it is harder to bring that home because you are competing in the same pool for staff."

He said public sector pay should not be "leading" the private sector.

"These developments are occurring in the absence of any guidance, national dialogue or a settled pay policy," he said.

"If the tide goes out on the current frothy projections for economic growth, there is a real danger that we could be swimming naked and against the tide and the return to levels of wage increases we are now seeing across the economy will show that we have failed to learn the lessons of the past."

He said a recent €200m Government deal with unions allowing recent public service recruits to skip two points on their salary scales worth €3,300 each bears scrutiny by taxpayers in terms of what it delivers.

Provisional figures show average weekly earnings were €740.32 - or €38,629 a year - in September. They had risen by 3.2pc from €717.55 - or €37,441 a year - 12 months earlier. This means the average worker is now earning €1,188 more than they were a year ago.

Earnings were highest in the IT sector, at €1,139.26 a week (€59,446 a year), followed by the financial insurance and real estate sector at €1,057.05 (€55,156 a year).

The lowest average weekly earnings were €363.83 (€18,984 a year) in the accommodation and food service sector and €494.98 (€25,828 a year) in the arts and recreation sector.

Earnings per week in the public sector rose by 1.9pc to €958.98 or €50,039 a year. Private sector pay grew 3.6pc, to €679 a week, or €35,439 a year.

Irish Independent

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