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Average worker's pay hits new peak of nearly €40,000

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Earnings are on the rise

Earnings are on the rise

Earnings are on the rise

The average worker's pay in Ireland reached a high point of nearly €40,000 this year, official figures show.

Earnings have risen by 8pc over the past five years to €745.09 a week - equivalent to €38,878 a year.

The Central Statistics Office confirmed the 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.

Bonuses

Earnings rose by more than 3pc in the past year, suggesting 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, such as overtime and bonuses.

They 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 and similar increases are likely next year.

However, Brendan McGinty, a former negotiator for the business organisation Ibec, claimed the rate of increase in pay is not justified by increases in the cost of living.

He claimed that little extra productivity by staff is being offered in exchange for the pay 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, particularl y in sectors that could be very severely impacted by Brexit," he said.

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

Mr McGinty added that 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 added that a €200m government deal with unions allowing recent public service recruits to skip two points on salary scales worth €3,300 each merits scrutiny by taxpayers.

Meanwhile, provisional figures show average weekly earnings were €740.32 - or €38,629 a year- in September.

They are up 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 a year ago.

Earnings were highest in IT, at €1,139.26 a week (€59,446 a year), followed by the financial, insurance and real estate sectors 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 in the public sector rose by 1.9pc to €50,039 a year. Private sector pay grew 3.6pc, to €35,439 a year.


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