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Press Statement


02 March 2021

Press Statement Earnings and Labour Costs Quarter 3 2020 (Final) Quarter 4 2020 (Preliminary Estimates)

COVID-19 impacts Earnings and Labour Costs Estimates for Quarter 4 2020
  • Significant compositional difference between the labour market in Q4 2020 and previous quarters
  • Average weekly earnings were €844.98 in Q4 2020, an increase of 7.5% from €786.33 in Q4 2019
  • Average hourly earnings increased by 5.5% to €25.56 from €24.23 in Q4 2019
  • Average weekly paid hours increased by 1.8% to 33.1 hours from 32.5 hours in Q4 2019
  • The job vacancy rate at the end of Q4 2020 was 0.9%, up from 0.8% at the end of Q3 2020
  • Largely because of the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS), average hourly other labour costs decreased 40.2% to €2.37 from €3.96 in Q4 2019

Go to release: Earnings and Labour Costs Q3 2020 (Final) Q4 2020 (Preliminary Estimates)

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) has today (02 March 2021) issued Earnings and Labour Costs results in respect of Preliminary estimates for Q4 2020 and Final estimates for Q3 2020.

Louise Egan, Statistician, CSO, explains the impact of COVID-19 on the results presented today: "When considering the change in earnings, it should be noted that there may be a compositional effect due to the significant changes in employment in certain sectors. The composition of the labour market in Q4 2020 was very different to the composition of the labour market in previous quarters including Q4 2019, against which the annual changes are measured, with significantly fewer employments in certain sectors in Q4 2020. The accompanying Labour Market Insight Bulletin Series 6 gives greater detail on compostional changes in employment in certain sectors."

Explaining the background to the release and outlining the headline results being presented today, Louise Egan continued:

 "The Earnings and Labour Costs quarterly release publishes statistics on average weekly and hourly earnings, hours and labour costs. Government measures put in place in response to COVID-19 related to all or some weeks of Q4 2020 for a number of sectors.

The Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) replaced the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme on the 01 September 2020. EWSS refunds in respect of September payroll submissions were paid by Revenue to eligible enterprises in Q4 2020, with enterprises receiving four months of supports in the three months of Q4 2020. 

Across and within economic sectors the impact of the COVID-19 crisis continues to be experienced very differently. Preliminary estimates for Q4 2020 show average hourly earnings increased by 5.5% to €25.56 and average weekly paid hours increased 1.8% to 33.1 hours from the same period in 2019. Average weekly earnings were €844.98, an increase of 7.5% compared to Q4 2019. The job vacancy rate, which measures job vacancies on the last working day of the quarter, is 0.9%, up from 0.8% at the end of Q3 2020 and unchanged at 0.9% at the end of Q4 2019."

Referring to Series 6 of the Labour Market Insight Bulletin also being published by the CSO today (please see the Bulletin), Louise Egan continued:

 "Today, the Labour Market and Earnings division in the CSO have also published the sixth bulletin from the Labour Market Insight Series. The data used for the bulletin is sourced from administrative datasets, namely the Revenue Commissioner’s employee level tax data.

Analysis presented in the bulletin supports results observed in the Earnings and Labour Costs release in relation to the quarterly changes in employments and earnings at a sectoral level between Q3 2020 and Q4 2020.

Key findings from the bulletin include a decrease of 1.1% in the number of active employments in Q4 2020 when compared to Q3 2020. The sectors showing the largest percentage decrease in employments from Q3 to Q4 2020 were the Arts, entertainment, recreation & other service activities sector (9.7%) and the Accomodation & food services sector (9.2%).

Average weekly pay (including TWSS & EWSS where applicable) increased by 6.3% across all employments between Q3 and Q4 2020. The sectors showing the largest quarterly percentage increase in average weekly pay were the Professional scientific & technical activities sector (20.6%) and the Arts, entertainment, recreation & other services activities sector (11.8%). 

For employments that were active in both Q1 and Q4 average weekly earnings increased by 3.7% across all employments between Q1 and Q4, with changes by sectors ranging from a decrease of 6.3% in the Administrative & support services sector to an increase of 13.8% in the Construction sector."

Referring to the ongoing reporting difficulties being faced by enterprises due to COVID-19, Louise Egan explained:

"Preliminary estimates for Q4 2020 have been negatively impacted by lower than usual response rates and the difficulties enterprises faced both recording the information required and sending their survey data.

The sectors particularly impacted by low rates of survey response were Construction, Accommodation & Food Services, and Transportation and Storage. Caution is therefore advised in relation to the Preliminary estimates published today." (Please see the updated Technical Note on the Impact of COVID-19 on the Earnings and Labour Costs release for more information.)


For further information contact:

Louise Egan (+353) 21 453 5951

or email

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