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Press Statement


02 May 2017

Historical Earnings 1938-2015

Main Features
  • Real earnings of Industrial workers in the Industry sector increased 319% from 1938 to 2015
  • Real earnings grew by an average of 2% per annum over the period 1938 to 2015
  • The Gender Pay Gap of Industrial workers in the Industry sector fell from 40% in 1944 to 23% in 2014
  • Females worked 43.8 hours a week in 1955, this fell to 37 hours in 2005
  • Managerial workers earned 44% more than Industrial workers in 1985, this increased to 53% more in 2015
  • A loaf of bread cost 5.5d (5.5 pence) in 1938. Accounting for 1% of the average weekly pay of ¬£2 6s 4d (2 pounds, 6 shillings and 4 pence)

Go to release: Historical Earnings 1938 - 2015

The CSO today (2nd May 2017) published a report on Historical Earnings 1938 - 2015.

Earnings statistics have been produced in Ireland since the early nineteen hundreds, published in the Irish Trade Journal and Statistical Bulletin. Broad Industrial average earnings were first published in 1938.

These statistics focused on Industrial employees in the Industry sector, where the majority of non-agricultural employment was based. Since then additional data has been published, including more occupational and sectoral categories.

Commenting on the report, Statistician Brian Cahill said: "This publication joins available data to compile a series of earnings statistics over the period 1938 to 2015. This merged series provides insight into how earnings have evolved from before World War 2 to the present day.

Statistics are presented in real (2015 prices) and nominal terms to illustrate the purchasing power of earnings over the period and to allow users relate historical earnings to those of the present day. 

The purpose of this Historical Earnings publication is to compile available average earnings data and present them in as coherent a series as possible. Caution is advised when interpreting this data as surveys over the 77 year period were carried out utilising different methodologies, definitions, sectoral classifications and occupational classifications." 

Editor's Note:

Editor’s note: The Historical Earnings Publication is available on the CSO web site and additional data is available on StatBank

For further information contact:

Brian Cahill (+353) 21 453 5173 or Gerry Brett (+353) 21 453 5513

or email

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