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Ireland only place in eurozone where worker costs fell

IRELAND is the only country in the eurozone where the cost of hiring workers has fallen since the start of the financial crash.

New data from the European data agency, Eurostat, shows that it costs €27.4 per hour on average to employ a worker in Ireland.

That's down from €28 in 2009. The statistics show that hiring costs have dropped consistently since 2008.

The "labour" cost figure includes wages and extra costs such as employers' PRSI.

The latest figures from the EU's statistics agency shows Irish employment costs are in line with the European average. Costs across Europe vary widely, from €44.20 per hour in Norway to €3.50 in Bulgaria.

Even within the much smaller eurozone, Irish labour costs rank eighth highest out of 17 countries.

Even battered economies like Greece and Portugal have seen rises since 2008.

One in four private-sector companies has implemented pay cuts in Ireland in the past four years, and the State has cut pay for new employees in much of the public sector over the same period.

IBEC chief economist Fergal O'Brien said Ireland was almost unique as it was one of the few countries inside the eurozone regaining competitiveness.

The Irish experience here is proof that such competitiveness gains can be made without leaving the currency, he pointed out.

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Mr O'Brien said there was now less pressure for further wage cuts, particularly as wages in rival economies, including the likes of Germany, were going up while costs come down here.

That was now being reflected in the pick-up in jobs announcements by multinational corporations increasing their presence in Ireland, he said.

"It's not just that we're seeing jobs announced but these are increasingly in areas like manufacturing, where Ireland was basically priced out of the market during the boom."


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