Saturday 23 February 2019

Tech workers pull in close to 50pc more than average wage

Sarah McCabe

Our graphic shows a deep divide in wages between Ireland's hi-tech sector and those in the worst-paid industries.

Research from the Central Statistics Office tells us that workers in the information and communications sector earned an average of €52,035 last year – while those working in the accommodation and food services sector earned an average salary of just €16,319 or two-thirds less.

The average annual salary for 2012, across all sectors, was €36,079.

This means that pay packets in the construction industry, wholesale and retail trade sector, administrative and support services and arts and entertainment industries all fell below the national average.

Interestingly, wage statistics tell a different story when examined by their hourly rate.

On an hourly basis, workers in the education sector made the most last year – a whopping €35.47 per hour, on average. Salaries might be lower in teaching than in technology, but fewer working hours means teachers got more out for the amount of time they put in.

The lowest hourly earnings were again recorded in the accommodation and food service sector.

At an average of €12.48 an hour, this still came in far above the minimum hourly wage of €8.65.

In some countries, this is seen as a luxury. In Germany, despite the country's robust economic health, leading economic institutes issued stark warnings last week ahead of government talks on the introduction of a new minimum wage of €8.50.

They said the move could lead to significant job losses.

The issue has emerged as critical to the formation of a German government; the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) have said they will refuse to form a government with Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives unless they agree to a nationwide minimum wage.

Unlike most EU countries, Germany has resisted a minimum wage, in part because it was seen as political interference in wage bargaining between unions and employers.

Instead it relies on collective wage deals by sector and region.

But reports of workers earning as little as €2 an hour have proliferated in recent years, particularly in eastern Germany.

Mark Keese, a labour market expert at the Paris-based Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), says Britain's experience suggests a minimum wage does not have to lead to job losses.

Britain introduced a minimum wage of £3.60 an hour in 1999, which has risen progressively to around £6.30 – equivalent to about €7.50.

There is little evidence that it caused the job losses initially feared by business groups and Conservative politicians.

Of the 28 European Union countries, 21 have minimum wages.

Those that do not, such as the Scandinavian countries, tend to have higher coverage by trade union wage deals.

Irish Independent

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