Irish paid less than workers in Germany, Luxembourg and France

Entry level staff in Ireland paid less than in eleven other European countries, but higher buying power mitigates the impact

Wage pressures are building, as evidenced by the recent industrial action at Bus Eireann. For now however, Irish salaries remain either competitive - or too low, depending on how you look at it - compared with European norms. (Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times)

Wage pressures are building, as evidenced by the recent industrial action at Bus Eireann. For now however, Irish salaries remain either competitive - or too low, depending on how you look at it - compared with European norms. (Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times)

 

The bad news is we’re paid less than many of our European compatriots; but the good news is that we have stronger “buying power” than many of them, while lower wages also makes us more competitive for businesses looking to restructure their operations in the wake of the Brexit vote.

According to new research from advisory group Willis Towers Watson, it’s cheaper to hire entry level staff in Ireland (€34,500 ) than in eleven other European countries, such as Switzerland (€78,860); Germany (€46,757); and Luxembourg (€44,022) - “a consequence of pay restraint over recent years in Ireland”.

Irish middle managers (€82,956) fare a little better, with just nine European countries paying more than in Ireland, and a host of others, including Slovakia (€40,184); Portugal (€51,000); and Greece (€65,800), paying considerably less.

Moreover, when purchasing power parity (PPP), or taking different costs of living into account, the Irish have a markedly greater “buying power” than that of many higher-waged markets across Europe, including Germany, France, Austria, and all of the Scandinavian countries.

Switzerland is top of the league table when it comes to pay- it has the highest pay rates in Europe, with € 78,680 for entry level and € 144,194 for middle management roles, and despite a hefty cost of living, the Swiss still have a higher buying power than all other Europeans.

But, while many of us might bemoan low wage inflation and years without a pay rise, there is a silver lining to this cloud.

Jenny Smyth, head of talent and reward, with Willis Towers Watson Ireland, said that pay rates in Ireland are “very competitive”, which could pay dividends when it comes to UK-based operations choosing new locations post-Brexit.

“Ireland is also notable because it offers existing and new employees a buying power that is much higher than in other European countries paying higher salaries. This creates a win-win for both employers and staff that may see many people drawn here after Brexit,” she said.