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David Spreekmeester
blow by blow

These are the jobs that are winning and losing as the economy picks up

Average pay packets took another hit at the start of the year.

WORKERS’ WEEKLY PAY packets took a dip at the start of the year with only those with jobs in a few sectors enjoying a rise in their incomes.

Average weekly earnings across the country stood at €696.03 for the first three months of the year, down slightly on the previous quarter.

The drop came because of a fall in the average weekly hours staff were working after a small increase in people’s hourly pay.

The latest figures from the CSO, which are for earnings before tax, PRSI and other levies are taken out, showed those employed in the IT and communications sectors had easily the biggest increases, with average earnings up 6.4% for the quarter.


That compared to a 9% fall in the worst-performed industry, construction. Sector-by-sector, average weekly earnings ranged from a high of €1059.44 for those in financial, insurance and real estate jobs to a low of €308.98 for accommodation and food services workers.

Here are some of the key numbers for workers in different industries:

Average earnings in the arts, entertainment and recreation sectors were €478.12, the second-lowest of all fields. The total was down 1.9% in three months, but up 3.6% on the same time last year

Earnings in public administration and defence were €931.52, the third-highest. That was up 1.1% over both three- and 12-month periods

Defence Photocall Ireland / Defences Forces Photocall Ireland / Defences Forces / Defences Forces

Accommodation and food services staff, the lowest-paid on average of any sector, also had the second-biggest drop in earnings, at 5.1%, during the quarter

Workers in businesses with fewer than 50 employees earned an average of €545.45, about 34% less than the average for those in businesses with over 250 employees

Some promising signs

When compared to the same period in 2014, average weekly earnings for all workers were up a fraction, but still below the figure for the first three months of 2012.

However in a promising sign, the CSO’s survey showed the overall job vacancy rate was at its highest point since before the financial crisis.


Unsurprisingly, the highest vacancy rate was in jobs for in-demand IT and communications workers, followed by those in the financial, insurance and real estate industries.

Jobs market slack

The figures come as the latest business surveys from lobby group Ibec showed a rising number of employers were expecting to increase basic pay rates this year.

In a briefing note before the data was released this morning, Davy chief economist Conal Mac Coille said there were still 115,000 “underemployed” part-time workers which showed there was plenty of spare capacity in the jobs market, which would put a cap on earnings.

Nonetheless, there should be room for wage growth to accelerate from current levels close to zero, especially in high-tech and professional sectors with strong productivity growth and where labour shortages are starting to become apparent,” he said.

An Taoiseach Enda Kenny as he official Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tánaiste Joan Burton open Zalando's new Dublin office last month Sasko Lazarov / Photocall Ireland Sasko Lazarov / Photocall Ireland / Photocall Ireland

The unemployment rate dropped into single digits for the first time in almost seven years in the most-recent quarter. Last year the economy grew 4.8% – nearly four times the eurozone average – although total output is still below the 2007 peak. 

READ: Most of Ireland’s biggest companies aren’t Irish at all >

READ: So where do Irish graduates want to work in 2015? And how much do they expect to make? >

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