Weekly earnings rise by unprecedented 7.5% but figures mask Covid impact

CSO data show average weekly earnings rose to €844.98 in 2020

The average weekly earnings of workers in the Irish economy rose by an unprecedented 7.5 per cent to €844.98 last year, the highest level on record.

The average weekly earnings of workers in the Irish economy rose by an unprecedented 7.5 per cent to €844.98 last year, the highest level on record.

 

The average weekly earnings of workers in the Irish economy rose by an unprecedented 7.5 per cent to €844.98 last year, the highest level on record, Central Statistics Office (CSO) figures show.

The rise reflects the earnings of those remaining in employment, including those supported by the Government’s Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS).

It does not reflect the fortunes of the 600,000 plus workers that have either lost their jobs or are reliant on the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) as a result of Covid-19 crisis.

The CSO said the panemic had triggered major compositional changes in certain sectors.

The weekly earnings of workers in the worst-hit accommodation and food services sector rose by nearly 3 per cent to €390.04, but this again this reflected the earnings of those still employed in the sector.

Hospitality workers are the lowest paid workers in the State, but the sector has the highest rate of part-time staff, which anchors the average.

Their average earnings are roughly 50 per cent below the national average and a third of IT workers, who had the highest weekly earnings (€1,344.59) of any sector in 2020, up 8.4 per cent on the previous year.

Earnings

Another hard-hit sector was arts and entertainment, which saw weekly earnings rise by 6.5 per cent to €556.58.

The CSO’s earnings data show workers in the transportation and storage sector were the only ones to suffer a decline in weekly earnings, which fell 3.8 per cent to €796.46.

“When considering the change in earnings, hours and labour costs, 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 composition of the labour market in Q4 2020 was very different to the composition of the labour market in both Q3 2020 and Q4 2019, against which the quarterly and annual changes are measured,” it said.

The figures show average hourly earnings increased by 5.5 per cent last year, rising from €24.23 to €25.56 while average weekly paid hours, a reflection of the level of work undertaken, increased by 1.8 per cent from 32.5 to 33.1.

Average hourly total labour costs were €27.93 in the fourth quarter of 2020, a decrease of 0.9 per cent from the value of €28.19 one year previously.

Average weekly earnings increased by 3.4 per cent across the public sector and by 8.5 per cent across the private sector in 2020.