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What is the 'Earnings and Labour Costs’ quarterly release?

The Earnings and Labour Costs quarterly release provides information on

  • how many people are employed in the economy;
  • how much it costs enterprises to employ them; 
  • how much employees are paid and 
  • how many hours employees work.

The main statistics produced by the Earnings and Labour Costs release include: average weekly earnings, average hourly earnings, average hourly labour costs and average weekly hours worked of employees in the economy each quarter. The release provides a short term indication of the cost of labour in Ireland for national use and international comparison.

How is the data collected?

The Earnings and Labour Costs release is based on data collected in the Earnings, Hours and Employment Costs Survey (EHECS). EHECS surveys approximately 7,000 enterprises each quarter by post and email. All enterprises with 50 or more employees are surveyed as well as a sample of enterprises which have between 3 and 49 employees. Survey questionnaires are sent to enterprises in the last week of the relevant quarter. Enterprises return the questionnaire with information relating to earnings, labour costs, employment and hours worked of their employees. This information is broken down by occupation and by full-time / part-time employment status. CSO staff follow up with enterprises if they have not responded to the survey or if they need to verify information already provided on their survey forms.

Sixty five percent of firms in the sample respond to the EHECS survey each quarter, this represents 85% of the employment in the sample.

How is the data compiled?

Three months after the end of the quarter all data collected from firms is checked and compiled to create a dataset for the quarter. Survey respondents with 3 to 49 employees are given a weight so they represent all enterprises in the economy with 3 to 49 employees. Imputation is carried out for non-respondents with 50 or more employees. After imputation, all enterprises with 50 or more employees are accounted for and included in the final dataset.

The final dataset is used to calculate totals and averages for each NACE sector and Public Sector group. Each of these averages are added to a time series which dates from Quarter 1 2008 to the current quarter.

These earnings and labour cost indicators are published in the Earnings and Labour Costs release and on statbank each quarter on the CSO website.

Who uses the data?

There is wide national usage of earnings and labour costs data; these include the public, the media, government departments, economists and research bodies. International users who use the data include Eurostat, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the OECD.


Employee: All full-time or part-time workers paid a specific wage or salary or who had a contract of employment are defined as employees.

Full-time Employees:

Employees whose regular working hours are the same as the collectively agreed or customary hours worked in the enterprise, irrespective of the duration of the employment contract. Full-time employment often comes with benefits that are not typically offered to part-time, temporary, or flexible workers, such as annual leave, sick leave, and health insurance.

Part-time Employees:

Employees whose regular working hours are less than the collectively agreed or customary hours worked in the enterprise. The definition of part-time varies from enterprise to enterprise but in general part-time employees work 80% or less of the regular hours of the enterprise. 


Enterprise: An enterprise is defined as the smallest legally independent business unit. It may be comprised of one or more local units or branches.

Earnings: Earnings represent the gross amount (before the deduction of tax, PRSI, superannuation, etc.) payable to employees. Earnings include normal wages and salaries and overtime, taxable allowances, regular bonuses, irregular bonuses and commissions, as well as holiday pay and sick pay.

Hours: Hours represents the total contracted hours plus overtime hours of employees in firms with 3 or more employees.

Other Costs

The following are the other categories of labour costs:

  • Statutory employers’ PRSI including the social security contributions for apprentices.
  • Other social costs; which encompass pension fund contributions, life assurance premiums, income continuance insurance as well as other employee-related payments paid by the employer.
  • Benefits in kind; which include private use of company cars, stock options & share purchase schemes, voluntary sickness insurance, staff housing and other free or subsidised benefits (e.g. canteen facilities, childcare provision, health costs).
  • Other labour costs.
  • Redundancy payments.
Related Information

Further information is available as follows:

Releases and Tables

Alternatively you may contact:

Information Section
Tel: (+353) 21 453500
Email: information@cso.ie

Earnings Analysis Section
Brian Cahill (+353) 21 4535173
Gerard Brett (+353) 21 4535541
Karen Desmond (+353) 21 4535512
Email: Earnings@cso.ie