Public wages up 3.4% in year

 

The number of people employed in the public sector has risen by 20,000 over the last three years, while average weekly earnings have jumped 12 per cent, according to figures released today.

The CSO figures show that average weekly earnings in the public sector, excluding the health sector, rose by 3.4 per cent in the year to March 2009 from €941.01 to €973.04. This compares to a rise of 3.2 per cent in the year to December 2008.

Over the three year period from March 2006 to March 2009, average weekly earnings in the public sector, excluding health, rose by 12.2 per cent from €867.62 to €973.04.

Defence sector earnings rose by 17.5 per cent (from €705.46 to €828.79) and semi-state by 14.8 per cent (from €946.00 to €1,085.75), while the earnings for An Garda Síochána, inclusive of overtime, rose by 5.9 per cent in the three-year period.

All areas within the education sector rose by around 10 per cent, except for third level where average earnings rose by 17.9 per cent from €928.81 to €1,095.36 per week.

A total of 371,200 people were employed in the Public Sector in March 2009, compared to 368,300 in March 2008, a rise of 2,900. This compares to a rise of 5,200 in the year to December 2008, indicating a downward trend at the start of this year.

In the three years to March 2009, employment in the public sector rose by 19,900 to 371,200. However, this figure for March marks a reduction on the 373,300 employed in the public sector in December 2008.

Today's CSO data come ahead of a report by the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes, informally known as An Bord Snip Nua, which will more than 400 recommendations for public sector cutbacks. It is understood the group will recommend reductions of between 20,000 and 30,000 in public sector numbers through natural wastage, as well as the lowering and withdrawal of a large number of allowances currently received by public sector workers.The six-person group, chaired by UCD economist Colm McCarthy, was established late last year.

From March 2006 to March 2009 employment in the semi-state sector fell from 55,900 to 52,300, a decrease of 3,600. This is due in part to the privatisation of some companies.

The distribution of employment within the total public sector has altered little between March 2006 and March 2009, according to the CSO. The largest sector is health, at 30 per cent of all employment. The education sector makes up 28 per cent of the total employment in the public sector compared with 26 per cent in March 2006.