Wage growth in Irish economy recorded at 2% last year

CSO says headline growth number may be skewed by compositional factors relating to Covid-19

Average weekly earnings in the Irish economy grew by a moderate 2 per cent last year, according to the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

The agency cautioned that the headline growth number may be skewed by compositional factors relating to Covid-19.

The finding comes amid a sharp rise in inflation generally and reports of increased wage demands and growth in certain sectors.

The CSO’s latest earnings data showed average weekly salaries rose to €864.51 in the final quarter of 2021, an increase of 2 per cent from €847.21 one year earlier and an increase of 9.9 per cent from the same period in 2019.


Average hourly earnings were €26.22 in the final quarter of 2021, an increase of 2.6 per cent from €25.56 recorded a year previously.

“When considering the change in earnings it should be noted that there may be a compositional effect due to the significant changes in employment in certain sectors,” the CSO said.

“The change in average weekly earnings may be impacted to some degree by those employments that have left or joined a sector having lower/higher average earnings than those employments that remained in the sector in both quarters.”

In the accommodation and food services sector, Employee Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) payments represented 45.6 per cent of total earnings, while in the arts, entertainment, recreation and other service activities sector it was 19.9 per cent. EWSS payments accounted for 4 per cent of total earnings across all sectors.

The CSO figures showed that IT workers continue to command the biggest salaries in the Republic, while those in the hospitality sector get paid the least.

Workers in the information and communications sector had average weekly earnings of €1,371.23, followed by workers in the financial, insurance and real estate sector, who earned €1,216.69.

This was nearly 50 per cent above the national average and more than three times the earnings of those in the accommodation and food services sector, who had the lowest weekly earnings of €397.42.


The CSO's recent Labour Force Survey shows there were a record 2.5 million people employed in the economy.

Reflecting the growth employment, average earnings increased in all 13 sectors of the economy, the CSO earnings data show.

The largest percentage increase was 7.2 per cent in the administrative and support services sector where average weekly earnings rose to €701.90 last year. The second largest increase was 5.7 per cent in the arts, entertainment, recreation which rose to €588.14 .

The job vacancy rate at the end of last year was 1.4 per cent, down from 1.5 per cent in the previous quarter.

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy is Economics Correspondent of The Irish Times