Hourly average earnings remain ‘at same level as in 2009’

Survey finds average weekly earnings rose in six of 13 sectors examined

Average weekly earnings rose by just 0.4 per cent in the second quarter of the year compared to the second quarter of last year. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Average weekly earnings rose by just 0.4 per cent in the second quarter of the year compared to the second quarter of last year. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Wed, Aug 28, 2013, 15:59

Average weekly earnings in the second quarter of this year were up by just 0.4 per cent to €695.75 from €692.75 in the same period last year, the Central Statistics Office said.

Hourly average earnings, at €22.02 are now at exactly the same level they were four years ago in quarter two of 2009.

Publishing the latest figures today, the CSO said revised weekly earnings for quarter one were €692.54, down 0.6 per cent on the same period in 2012.

Average hourly earnings in the second quarter were up just 0.2 per cent from €21.97 to €22.02.

The Earnings and Labour Costs report said average weekly paid hours rose to 31.6 in quarter two, an increase of 0.1 hours or 0.3 per cent.

Estimated numbers working in the public sector declined by 1.4 per cent (5,400) from 382,700 in the second quarter of last year to 377,300 in 2013.

The CSO urged caution in interpreting the preliminary figures for the second quarter, noting a low level of response from some sectors.

Average weekly earnings actually rose in six of the 13 sectors surveyed in the year to quarter two 2013.

The largest percentage increase was in the construction sector, where earnings were up by 9.5 per cent from €655.99 to €718.18.

The largest percentage sectoral decrease in weekly earnings was in the accommodation and food services sector, down 2.2 per cent from €312.35 to €305.57.

In the four years to quarter two of 2013, average weekly earnings across the sectors showed changes ranging from a drop of 10.9 per cent in the accommodation and food services sector from €342.78 to €305.57, and an increase of 11.3 per cent in the information and communication sector from €917.83 to €1,021.98.

According to the figures, weekly earnings in the private sector increased by 1 per cent in the year to quarter two, compared with an increase of 1.3 per cent in the public sector (including the semi-state sector).

This brings average weekly earnings in quarter two to €623.17 in the private sector and €928.76 in the public sector.

“In the four years to Q2 2013 public sector earnings have fallen by €17.30 (-1.8 per cent), and this compares with an increase of €5.10 (+0.8 per cent) in private sector average weekly earnings in the same period,” the CSO said.

Average hourly earnings increased from €21.97 per hour in the second quarter of last year to €22.02 in quarter two this year - a rise of 0.2 per cent.

The CSO noted that while overall average hourly earnings had remained the same in the four years to quarter two of this year, they had in fact decreased in seven of the 13 sectors.

The largest percentage decrease was in the human health and social work sector, down 6.5 per cent from €24.91 to €23.29.

The largest percentage increase in average hourly earnings over the same period was in the information and communication sector, which was up 7.4 per cent from €25.91 to €27.83.

Average weekly paid hours were 31.6 in the second quarter, an increase of 0.3 per cent (+0.1 hours) over the year.

In the public sector, average weekly earnings increased in six of the seven sub-sectors in the year to quarter two, the CSO said.

The largest percentage increase was in the Garda Síochána, which was up 2.3 per cent from €1,209.68 to €1,237.87 per week. Average weekly paid hours for gardaí were up by 0.4 hours or 1 per cent from 40.4 hours to 40.8.

Earnings fell by 1.4 per cent in the defence sector from €850.05 to €837.73 in the same period.

Employment numbers in the public sector show a decrease of 40,300 or 9.7 per cent from 417,600 to 377,300 in the four years from 2009.

The CSO noted all earnings were gross, before deductions for PRSI, tax and other levies.

“This is particularly relevant to the public sector since March 2009 when the pension levy was introduced.”

It said changes in the composition of employees in a given sector or group had an effect on the average levels of earnings and paid hours over time.

Many public sector employees are paid on the basis of incremental scales.

“Recruitment, particularly at lower levels, to these sectors would generally result in a depression to average earnings. The absence of recruitment has the opposite effect.”

The reduction in employee numbers across the public sector would also impact on average earnings.