Average hourly earnings in private sector have increased according to new CSO data …. (2nd quarter 2009)

According to An Irish Times behavioural and attitudes poll conducted last week 69 per cent have not had their pay cut. 76 per cent have not had a reduction in their working hours. 81 per cent have not lost their job.  You can find a summary of the findings here. Given that over 300,000 people are employed by the public sector it is not unreasonable to assume that a significant percentage of the 31 per cent who have had a cut in their wages are from this sector.

But, more reliable data on pay cuts and average hourly earnings has emerged from the Central Statistics Office. This data shows that there has been a reduction in bonuses and over time in ‘industrial sector wages’. Average hourly earnings have actually increased by 4.2 per cent though. Average hourly earnings have continued to rise for almost all sectors including professions, managers, and a range of craft workers.  The financial sector has witnessed the highest reduction in earnings (12 per cent) but almost all of it is coming from bonuses. excluding bonuses average earnings actually rose by 0.5per cent. A very concise summary of the findings can be found in the business section of the Irish Times here.

An interesting quote from Alan McQuaid, an economist with Bloxham Stockbrokers states “all in all, the figures appear to fly in the face of anecdotal evidence pointing to significant wage cuts in the private sector, but that probably reflects the higher than average remuneration in the multinational sector, which is one area of the Irish economy that is doing well at the moment”. Unsurprisingly this has gone almost undocumented by the main stream press and blogging sphere. But, if the opposite results emerged you can be sure it would be front page headlines.

On the other had, a Red C poll in the Sunday Business Post show that 58 per cent have had their pay/package cut which is significantly higher than all the other data to date. It also shows that most respondents would prioritise higher taxes for middle to high income earners (over €100k household income). You can find the findings here. It also shows that political support for Irelands political parties is as follows: Fine Gael (36 per cent), Fianna Fáil (23 per cent), Labour (17 per cent), Sinn Féin (10 per cent), Greens (5 per cent), Independents (9 per cent).

None of this is to take away from those who have had their pay cut or lost their job. But, it is important that the debate on wages and competitiveness is informed by facts and not anecdotal evidence.  The contested nature of earnings, labour costs and wage cuts is a reflection of ideological differences across the political spectrum (and commentary class). An ideology that is not and is never made explicit in economic analysis.

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One response to “Average hourly earnings in private sector have increased according to new CSO data …. (2nd quarter 2009)

  1. Regarding average changes in income in the private sector, there was an excellent comment made on the perils of drawing firm conclusions on the basis such averages, made here: http://cedarlounge.wordpress.com/2009/11/22/pick-a-number-any-number/#comment-54745

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