Back to Top

 Skip navigation

Q: The CSO Earnings and Labour Costs release contains average earnings data, how are these averages calculated? 

A: The Earnings and Labour Costs quarterly release publishes statistics on average weekly and hourly earnings and labour costs where these average earnings figures are mean earnings. For example, average weekly earnings are calculated by summing the earnings of all employees in a sector and dividing by the sum of all the employees in that sector whereas average hourly earnings are calculated by summing the earnings of all employees in a sector and dividing by the sum of all hours worked by employees in the sector.

As is typical in earnings distributions, a relatively small number of high earners result in a positively skewed earnings distribution of employees in Ireland. In a positively skewed earnings distribution, mean earnings are greater than median earnings as the mean is increased by those higher earners. In such cases median earnings (the middle earner in the economy or sector) may be a more reflective figure of the average earnings of employees in the economy or sector. Please see the graph below which illustrates the earnings distribution of employees in Ireland in 2014. This data is taken from the Earnings Analysis using Administrative Sources (EAADS) release, available here. This release produces both mean and median earnings statistics.

The Earnings and Labour Costs release is based upon firm level earnings data which is used to produce mean earnings statistics and thus cannot produce median earnings statistics.

Earnings Distribution FAQs

Q: Where can I find the "Average Industrial Wage" for Ireland in your release?

A: The Average Industrial Wage refers to average weekly earnings of Industrial Workers in the Industry Sector. Industrial Workers are defined as production, transport, craft and other manual workers. The Industry sector is shown in the Earnings and Labour Costs release as "NACE sectors B to E". This NACE classification includes the following activities: mining and quarrying, manufacturing, electricity, gas and water supply. The Average Industrial Wage is calculated as follows: regular earnings for the quarter divided by the average number of persons employed during the quarter, divided by 13 (the number of weeks in a quarter). Average Industrial Wage data is shown in table A1 of the release here and in the StatBank table EHQ13 here. Historical Average Industrial Wage data from 1938 is available here

Q: Can I get earnings data broken down by sex and geographical location in your release?

A: The Earnings and Labour Costs quarterly release does not break down earnings data by sex or geographical location. However, the Earnings Analysis using Administration Data Sources release (EAADS) publishes both median and mean earnings by region, sector, sex, age group and nationality. Please see the EAADS release here.

Q: Can I get more detailed earnings data for specific occupations?

A: The Earnings and Labour Costs quarterly release does not break down earnings data by specific occupations. The most detailed earnings data which is published is classified by three broad occupation groups and is available in table A1 of the releas here and in the StatBank table EHQ13 here

Q: Why is my take home wage not as high as the average weekly earnings which you publish for my industry in your release?

A: The Earnings and Labour Costs quarterly release publishes average weekly earnings and these are calculated from gross pre-tax wages and salaries figures. The average is calculated from all employees  earnings within the particular sector ranging from that of lower paid new recruits to higher paid senior executives. Your take home wage is a net pay amount after the deduction of PAYE tax, PRSI contributions, universal social charge (USC) and pension contributions.

Q: Why are public sector wages higher than private sector wages?

A: The Earnings and Labour Costs quarterly release produces average earnings data for the public and private sectors. The average public sector earnings are higher than private sector earnings for a variety of reasons including: public sector employees are on average older than private sector employees, are more likely to have completed third level education and are more likely to be a member of a trade union. Comparisons of public sector and private sector earnings require detailed analysis. While there is no internationally agreed methodology for assessing the public-private sector wage gap, the CSO has published analysis of the differential using the National Employment Survey for 2007-2010 and a matched Quarterly National Household Survey and P35 dataset for 2011-2014. These analysis took account of compositional differences between the public and private sector, such as occupational mix, sectors of activity, gender balance, union membership, etc. The public sector pay gap in 2014 was estimated to range from -0.36% to +5.05% depending on the specification applied and the treatment of the Pension Levy.  See analysis for 2007-2010 here and for 2011-2014 here.

Q: As a teacher, I earn much less than what your latest release says I should be earning. Can you explain this please?  

A: The Earnings and Labour Costs quarterly release publishes average weekly and hourly earnings and labour costs statistics. The Education Sector average weekly earnings are calculated from all employees within the sector (not just teachers). The inclusion of a university professor at the top of their salary scale would, for example, inflate the average value. On the other hand, the inclusion of a part-time school caretaker's wages may bring the average down. Therefore, the earnings figures presented for the Education Sector do not reflect an individual salary, but instead give an indication of the average earnings of all employees in the sector.

Q: What do Farm Labourers in Ireland earn?

A: The Earnings and Labour Costs release does not publish data on agricultural workers. Employment data for agricultural workers is available in the Labour Force Survey (LFS) release which can be seen here.

Q: Where can I access earnings data prior to when the Earnings Hours worked and Employment Costs (EHECS) survey started in 2008?

A: In 2017 the CSO produced the Historical Earnings 1938-2015 publication based on data collected from various CSO historical publications. Please see this release here as well as the StatBank tables from which the release content was compiled: Industrial Earnings 1938-1999 here and 2000-2007 here, Earnings in the Construction Sector 1969-2008 here, Earnings in the Distribution and Business Services Sector 1998-2008 here, Earnings in the Financial Business Sector 1988-2007 here. The current StatBank tables for Earnings by Economic Sector Quarterly & Annual here & here and Eurostat Earnings and Labour Cost statistics are available here.