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We've slashed workforce costs

IRELAND'S workforce costs have plummeted since the crash - bucking a Europe-wide trend.

Hiring costs here have dropped consistently since 2008 and it now costs €27.4 an hour to employ a worker -- down from €28 last year.

This figure includes wages and extra costs such as employers' PRSI. However, 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.

But the other most affected economies in the region, such as Greece and Portugal, have recorded rising costs since 2008.

Over the past four years, 25pc of all private-sector companies have implemented pay cuts in Ireland.

Similarly, the State has cut pay for new employees in much of the public sector over the same period.

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