Saturday 20 January 2018

Public sector pay outpaces private, says CSO

Average weekly earnings for State workers rose by €30, or 3.3pc, in the year to June, compared with €12, or 1.9pc, in the private sector. Stock image
Average weekly earnings for State workers rose by €30, or 3.3pc, in the year to June, compared with €12, or 1.9pc, in the private sector. Stock image

Anne-Marie Walsh

Public servants' earnings are outpacing private sector workers', according to the latest official figures.

Average weekly earnings for State workers rose by €30, or 3.3pc, in the year to June, compared with €12, or 1.9pc, in the private sector.

However, staff at the Central Statistics Office (CSO), who compiled the data, pointed out that the rate of increase in public sector salaries is 2.4pc rather than 3.3pc when the hiring of temporary census staff is taken into account. However, the growth in public sector wages is still 0.5pc ahead.

The CSO noted that average public sector earnings were lower than usual last year because they included temporary staff who were taken on to work on the census, which inflated the growth in wages. The researchers also noted that a 'wage restoration' increase, which was brought forward last April for all public servants, and garda overtime payments were factors in the pace of growth.

The average public servant now earns €938 a week, or €48,944 a year, compared with average earnings of €660 a week, or €34,438, in the private sector. The figures also reveal that the average garda earns €71,384 a year and has the highest earnings in the public sector, although they also work the longest hours - at 44 a week.

Gardaí had the highest average weekly earnings of €1,368 followed by workers in semi-State bodies, whose pay packages amounted to €54,132 a year.

The defence sector and regional bodies had the lowest average weekly earnings.

However, based on the amount earned per hour, teachers had the highest average earnings of €38 an hour, but worked the least numbers of hours - at just 24 a week.

Gardaí had the next highest average hourly earnings of €31 but worked the longest hours.

The spokesperson for the largest public sector union, Bernard Harbor, said the figures make it clear that the difference between pay recorded in the public and private sector is almost entirely due to a "statistical quirk" caused by the employment of temporary census staff. "This deflated the public service figures in 2016," he said.

He said most public servants received a modest pay increase of about €19 a week before tax last April, "which is in line with average pay movements in the rest of the economy."

The figures show the number of people employed in the public sector rose by just under 1pc in the year from 389,800 to 393,200.

Irish Independent

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