EAMON QUINN: Modest rise in wages as job vacancy rate stable

Earnings rose by an extremely modest 0.2% in the latest quarter, as the job vacancy rate remained unchanged despite signs of militancy by public sector unions.

The CSO figures for the three months to the end of September also show that weekly earnings across all parts of the economy ticked higher by 1.2% from a year earlier.

In the public sector, wages were up 1% from a year earlier, running behind an increase of 1.8% in the private sector, analysts said.

“Overall wage growth remains subdued despite a significant tightening in the labour market in recent quarters, suggesting that there is plenty of slack left in the Irish labour market,” said David McNamara, an economist at Davy Stockbrokers. Unadjusted weekly earnings rose in 11 of the 13 areas of the economy.

At 5.7%, construction workers had the largest increase in earnings in the year, while earnings in two other areas — professional and technical activities, and accommodation and food services — both rose 4.9%, the CSO said. Earnings in the areas of information and communication and education fell 0.9% in the year.

An unchanged job vacancy rate of 1% in the year suggests there is no weakening in the supply of labour. Numbers employed in the public sector have risen to 383,200, an increase in the year of 1.8% from 376,300.

Neil McDonnell, new CEO of business group Isme, said the figures showed there was no justification in public sector unions seeking restoration of pay.

“Private sector wage expectations are necessarily more modest,” he said.

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