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Business Costs in Ireland

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This section outlines some of the key statistics from the structural business surveys around the business costs faced by enterprises in Ireland. Personnel costs have been analysed already in other chapters 1, however, this chapter takes a closer look at the elements that make up personnel costs, which are wages & salaries and employers’ social security costs. The chapter also examines total purchases in the business economy and how purchases are broken down by sector and size class.



1Small & Medium Enterprises and Business Costs in Ireland.

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Personnel costs are defined as the total remuneration, in cash or in kind, payable by an employer to an employee. Personnel costs include taxes and employees' social security contributions retained by the unit, as well as the employer's compulsory and voluntary social contributions2.

Personnel costs are made up of:

  • wages and salaries
  • employers' social security costs

Social security costs for the employer include employer's contributions to the PRSI scheme, superannuation funds, PRSAs and other pension schemes. Also included are insurance premiums, employer’s liability insurance and private health premiums paid on behalf of employees.

2 See Appendix 2 for full definition

Social security costsWages & salaries
SMEs (<250)12.687.4
Large (250+)15.384.7
Total Business Economy13.586.5
  • Wages & salaries accounted for 86.5% of personnel costs for the total business economy in 2015
  • Large enterprises paid 15.3% of personnel costs in social security compared to 12.6% paid by SMEs
  • Social security contributions for the total business economy made up 13.5% of personnel costs
SMEs (<250)Large (250+)All enterprises
Industry8.516.513
Construction10.911.311
Distribution12.512.712.6
Services13.11513.6
Total Business Economy12.615.313.5
  • For SMEs, social security costs as a percentage of personnel costs ranged from as low as 8.5% in the Industry sector to a high of 13.1% in the Services sector in 2015
  • In general, Large enterprises experience higher social security costs as a percentage of personnel costs than SMEs, ranging from 11.3% for the Construction sector to a high of 16.5% for Industry
Social security costs as % of personnel costs
Sweden30.2
France29.6
Italy28.4123359906058
Belgium26.8
Czech Republic26.1
Estonia25.3
Slovakia25
Austria23
Lithuania22.7
Spain22.4
Portugal22.3
Greece20.9
Romania20.9
Hungary20.3
Finland19.9
Netherlands19.2
Latvia18.5
Germany17.6
Poland16.7
Bulgaria15.1
Croatia14.6
Slovenia13.1
United Kingdom13.1
Cyprus12.9
Ireland 12.8
Luxembourg12.7
Denmark8.6
Malta6.49808106829294
  • Ireland at 12.8% had the fourth lowest social security costs as a percentage of personnel costs in the EU28 for 2014
  • Sweden reported the highest rate at 30.2% of personnel costs being spent on social security
  • The United Kingdom had a slightly higher rate of social security costs than Ireland at 13.1% of total personnel costs
  • The Services sector accounted for 50.5% of total wages & salaries paid in Ireland's business economy in 2015
  • Ireland's Industry and Distribution sectors each accounted for approximately one fifth of total wages & salaries paid
  • The Construction sector's share of total wages & salaries paid in Ireland in 2015 was 6.2%
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Wages and salaries
Industry21.7
Construction6.2
Distribution21.6
Services50.5
SMEs (<250) Large (250+)All enterprises
Industry426015242847343
Construction 295595447735146
Distribution310812615928988
Services343953867136400
Total Business Economy363594171238811
  • Industrial employees enjoyed the highest sectoral wages in Ireland in 2015 at €47,343 per employee
  • In contrast, employees in the Distribution sector had the lowest wages at €28,988 per employee
  • In the total business economy in 2015, employees in SMEs had average wages of €36,359, while employees in Large enterprises had average wages of €41,712
  • The Services sector had the largest share of total purchases in the Business Economy in Ireland in 2015 at 34.4%
  • The Industry and Distribution sectors accounted for 33.8% and 30.6% of total Business Economy purchases respectively
  • The smallest sector was the Construction sector with only 1.2% of total purchases in the Irish Business Economy
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Total purchases
Industry33.8
Construction1.2
Distribution30.6
Services34.4
Show Table: 5.1 Breakdown of personnel costs in the total business economy by sector and size class, 2015

Show Table: 5.2 Breakdown of personnel costs in the total business economy, EU28 countries, 2014

Show Table: 5.3 Purchases in the total business economy by sector and size class, 2015

Go to next chapter >>> Detailed Business Sectors