New figures released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) reveal that the mean disposable income for Irish individuals increased by almost 10% in 2018.
The mean disposable income is now almost €23,000 — a 9.6% increase on the 2017 figure of €20.869, according to the CSO's Survey on Income and Living Conditions (SILC) for 2018. SILC is the official source of data on household and individual income and includes key indicators on those at risk of poverty and deprivation.
Median household disposable income is now €42,865 — an 8.5% increase on 2017.
In addition to revealing an increase in disposable income, SILC noted that the proportion of the population at risk of poverty — those whose income is less than 60% of the national median — declined to 14% from 15.7%.
The consistent poverty rate was 5.6%. This is not a statistically significant change on the 2017 figure of 6.7%, according to the CSO.
Commenting on the report, Eva O’Regan, statistician, said: "The key findings show that in 2018, the median annual household disposable income was €42,865, representing an increase of 8.5% on the 2017 value of €39,499. Mean household disposable income increased 6.2% from €48,476 in 2017 to €51,458 in 2018."
Disposable income varies in different parts of the country with those in the eastern and midlands region having a 21.3% higher income than those in the northern and western region, and 13.7% higher than those living in the south.
SILC also examined deprivation.
"Enforced deprivation is defined as not being able to afford two or more deprivation indicators; such as keeping the home adequately warm or buying presents for family/friends at least once a year," Ms O'Regan said.
"The percentage of people considered to be experiencing enforced deprivation was 15.1%, down from 18.8% in 2017."
The most common types of deprivation experienced by Irish households were; an inability to afford to replace worn-out furniture (17.8%), to afford to have family or friends for a drink or a meal once a month (11.7%) and to afford a morning, afternoon or evening out in the last fortnight (10.3%).
Social Protection Minister, Regina Doherty, said she is "very pleased" to see a downward trend in poverty figures.
"This is no accident. These figures reflect in part the positive impact that the targeted measures introduced in Budgets 2017 and 2018 have had on those most in need, particularly children."
"Within my own Department, these measures have included increases to the weekly welfare rates; increased income disregards for lone parent and working family payments and increases in qualified child payments and improvements in the National Minimum Wage hourly rate.
"As well as targeted social supports in recent Budgets, the Government’s economic policies have created a jobs-led recovery and assisted many more people into employment thereby making a significant difference to their quality of life."
Ms Doherty said she will soon publish a Social Inclusion Strategy which "will set out a roadmap and targets for the next few years" to "build a fairer and more equal Ireland for all."