As the Government seeks to wipe €1bn off the public service pay bill, the latest figures show that while the number of staff employed in the health service has fallen by 8,100 in the last year, those employed in education has increased by 5,100.
The Central Statistics Office’s latest report on earnings and labour costs shows that there were 383,500 people employed in the public service, including the semi-state sector, in the first quarter of 2013. That was down from 388,500 in the first quarter of 2012.
All sectors of the public service showed declines in numbers apart from education and defence — though the increase in defence was only by 100 people.
The figures show in the last four years, public service numbers have decreased by 37,500 or 8.9%.
The CSO’s report examines pay levels in both the private and public sectors. Over the last 12 months, average weekly private sector earnings have increased by 0.7% to €628.26, while earnings in the public sector have fallen by 0.5% to €913.25. The latter figure does not account for the decline which will result from the Haddington Road proposals and Government legislation to cut the pay of public servants. That should feature for the first time when the figures for the second quarter of this year are published.
Average weekly earnings increased in six of the 13 sectors of employment in the year to the first quarter of 2013. The largest percentage increase was in the administrative and support services sector which rose by 3.3% from €491.10 to €507.42.
The largest percentage sectoral decrease was recorded in the professional, scientific and technical sector which fell by 3.7% from €856.81 to €824.81.
The highest weekly earnings were to be found in the information and communication sector (€1,047.62) and financial, insurance and real estate (€1,037.62).
The CSO said that in the four years to the first quarter of 2013, changes in average weekly earnings across individual sectors ranged from a 13.5% decrease for the construction sector from €753.33 to €651.98, to a 10.9% increase for the information and communication sector which rose from €945.07 to €1,047.62.
The CSO also looked at hourly earnings in each of the sectors. That analysis showed hourly earnings were highest in education at €35.10. Its average weekly earnings were lower than other sectors due to staff doing fewer paid hours than in certain other sectors.
Overall, Davy Research found positives in the wages trends.
“The big picture is that modest growth in employment and wages in the private sector, which supports the bulk of employment, should feed into stabilising consumer spending over the course of the year,” said David McNamara of the company’s economics team.
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