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Saying jobs are only being created in Dublin is 'highly misleading'

One in four workers earn less than the living wage, new research has found.

Image: Shutterstock/Patricia Chumillas

Updated: 17.45

A REPORT PUBLISHED by the Neven Economic Research Institute (NERI) shows that one in four workers earn less than the living wage of €11.45 an hour.

The institute’s quarterly economic observer shows a link between low pay, low hours, and insecure forms of employment.

It also highlights “the clear gender dimension to the issue of low wages”, with 60% of those classified as low paid being female. Most people earning low wages work in retail, food and accommodation, and agriculture.

On a more positive note, the report also predicts the government will “comfortably” meet its deficit target this year on the back of strong GDP growth of 3.4%. NERI said the positive economic outlook is driven by continued employment growth and improved consumer demand. The body expects unemployment to fall to 9% in 2016.

NERI’s analysis of the latest data available (from 2013) found that:

  • On average, employees earns €20.63 per hour – although 50% earn less than €16.62 per hour;
  • 25% of employees earn an hourly wage of less than the living wage threshold of €11.45 per hour (approximately 345,000 employees);
  • 30% of employees earn below the Eurostat low pay threshold of €12.20 per hour (approximately 400,000 employees)
  • 60% of low paid workers are women, with female workers facing a 34% risk of being low paid (one in three).
  • Of all those who are low paid almost one-quarter are in the wholesale and retail sector, with almost one-in-six in the accommodation and food sector.
  • The highest risk of low pay is for employees in the agricultural, forestry and fishing sector, where seven out of every ten employees are low paid.

neri 2013 Source: NERI

The report raises concerns about the fact that while the east of the country has seen steady employment growth (more than 90% of jobs last year), “stagnation or decline” has occurred in western and northern counties.

A statement from the Department of Jobs has disputed this finding, describing it as “at best highly misleading”.

“For example, in 2014, jobs in the South East grew by 7,400 (or 25% of the overall jobs growth), and in the Midlands by 2,600 (or 9% of the overall jobs growth).

Since the Action Plan for Jobs was launched in 2012, every region of the country has grown in employment. The fastest growing region over that time has been the South East, not Dublin or Cork. Unemployment is falling in every county and in every region of the country.

“However, the government recognises that some regions are growing faster than others. That is why we are putting in place Regional Enterprise Plans to accelerate employment in every region of the country.”

‘Sluggish’ job creation outside Dublin

Dr Micheál Collins, NERI senior research officer, noted that while the economy continues to recover “a large proportion of workers remain in a position where their basic hourly wage fails to afford them an adequate standard of living”.

“The risk of a two-tiered recovery remains. Employment growth in the western and northern counties remains sluggish and contrasts with the situation in the greater Dublin area where employment growth is much stronger,” Dr Collins added.

NERI Director Dr Tom Healy stated that the institutes’s analysis “shows a link between inadequate levels of pay, low hours and insecure forms of employment”.

“How this issue is addressed will influence the continued strength of the economic recovery currently underway,” he said.

Originally published: 6am

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About the author:

Órla Ryan

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