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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)10.289.8
Large (250+)13.386.7
Total Business Economy11.388.7
  • Wages & salaries accounted for 88.7% of personnel costs for the total business economy in 2016
  • Large enterprises paid 13.3% of personnel costs in social security compared to 10.2% paid by SMEs
  • Social security contributions for the total business economy made up 11.3% of personnel costs
SMEs (<250)Large (250+)All enterprises
Industry7.516.112.4
Construction11.51512.3
Distribution10.511.210.7
Services10.41210.9
Total Business Economy10.213.311.3
  • For SMEs, social security costs as a percentage of personnel costs ranged from as low as 7.5% in the Industry sector to a high of 11.5% in the Construction sector in 2016
  • In general, Large enterprises experience higher social security costs as a percentage of personnel costs than SMEs, ranging from 11.2% for the Distribution sector to a high of 16.1% for Industry
Social security costs as a percentage of personnel costs
Sweden30.4
France29.3
Italy27.9
Belgium26.9
Czech Republic26.1
Estonia25.2
Slovakia24.9
Lithuania22.8
Austria22.8
Portugal22.5
Spain22.1
Hungary20
Finland19.9
Greece19.5
Netherlands19.2
Romania18.6
Germany18.1
Latvia17.9
Poland16.7
Bulgaria15
Croatia14.5
United Kingdom13.2
Cyprus13.1
Slovenia13.1
Ireland13
Luxembourg12.8
Denmark8.5
Malta6.5
  • Ireland had the fourth lowest social security costs as a percentage of personnel costs in the EU28 for 2015 (13.0%)
  • Sweden reported the highest rate personnel costs being spent on social security (30.4%)
  • The United Kingdom had a slightly higher rate than Ireland of social security costs as a percentage of personnel costs (13.2%)
  • The Services sector accounted for 49.8% of total wages & salaries paid in Ireland's business economy in 2016
  • 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 2016 was 7.6%
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Wages and salaries
Industry20.7
Construction7.6
Distribution21.8
Services49.8
SMEs (<250) Large (250+)All enterprises
Industry426875219447418
Construction 328705451136169
Distribution323412900930758
Services356674289239124
Total Business Economy435424021837225
  • Industrial employees enjoyed the highest sectoral wages in Ireland in 2016 (€47,418 per employee)
  • In contrast, employees in the Distribution sector had the lowest wages (€30,758 per employee)
  • In the total business economy in 2016, employees in SMEs had average wages of €43,542, while employees in Large enterprises had average wages of €40,218
  • The Distribution sector had the largest share of total purchases in the Business Economy in Ireland in 2016 (34.4%)
  • The Services and Industry sectors accounted for 32.5% and 30.3% of total Business Economy purchases respectively
  • The smallest sector was the Construction sector with just 2.8% of total purchases in the Irish Business Economy
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Total purchases
Industry30.3
Construction2.8
Distribution34.4
Services32.5
Show Table: 5.1 Breakdown of personnel costs in the total business economy by sector and size class, 2016

Show Table: 5.2 Breakdown of personnel costs in the total business economy, EU28 countries, 2015

Show Table: 5.3 Purchases in the total business economy by sector and size class, 2016

Go to next chapter >>> Detailed Business Sectors