Wednesday 19 June 2019

Average wage jumps by 3pc to all-time high of almost €39,000

Ireland is still far from the highest paid nation in the world, although it is not that far from the top. Stock image
Ireland is still far from the highest paid nation in the world, although it is not that far from the top. Stock image

Anne-Marie Walsh

The average worker's earnings have hit an all-time high after rising by more than €1,200 last year.

Yearly wages reached €38,871, their highest level since the Central Statistics Office began recording the figures in 2008.

Earnings are now outpacing the cost of living and the economy is edging towards full employment with a record workforce of 2.3 million.

However, the portion of the population at work is still well below boom-time levels, with experts partly blaming exorbitant childcare costs.

Fine Gael TD Colm Brophy claimed higher earnings coupled with tax cuts "mean that those who get up earliest in the morning are being rewarded".

Ireland is still far from the highest paid nation in the world, although it is not that far from the top.

The OECD ranks the country in 11th place out of 35 states with annual pay at €42,110 in 2017, although it calculates wages differently.

Luxembourg workers enjoyed the highest average pay at €55,726 a year, with the US in fourth place at €53,514, while UK wages lagged behind at €38,645 a year.

According to the latest Irish figures, average annual earnings rose by 3.3pc last year, up from €37,637 in 2017. This compared with a 1.9pc rise in 2017 from €36,933 in 2016.

However, these figures include full-time and part-time workers.

Taken separately, average yearly earnings for full-time workers stood at €47,596 in 2018 - up 2.6pc on the previous year. Part-time workers' earnings rose more sharply - by 3.5pc - to €17,651.

Ibec chief economist Ger Brady said: "Although there is no single consistent time series on Irish wages it appears that 2018 saw Irish workers get their largest annual real wage increase since at least the early 2000s."

He added it was a signal of the pace of economic growth, but warned that strong wage growth would only be sustainable if business costs were reduced and there was greater productivity.

He claimed that otherwise increasing wages would be wiped out by sharper price rises for consumers.

Ger Gibbons, of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU), said it was positive that wages were beginning to increase but said it came on the back of years of sluggish growth.

He said many workers had yet to see the benefits of the economic upturn, adding: "Average total earnings for workers in accommodation and food services are up just €150 over 10 years."

The largest increase was 7.9pc in the information and communication sector, where average annual earnings climbed from €56,758 to €61,269. The public administration and defence sector had the lowest growth of 1.7pc to €49,724.

The figures include all earnings including basic pay, overtime and bonuses. They reflect the amount of hours worked as well as pay rises.

Wages increased by just over 8pc from €35,951 in the five years since 2013.

Irish Independent

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