Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings published today

Date published: 26 October 2017

The Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings was published today by the Northern Ireland Statistics & Research Agency.

Hours and Earnings Statistics

Weekly earnings increase in cash terms but decrease in real terms

  • Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) results show that median gross weekly earnings for full-time employees in NI were £501 at April 2017, up 1.5% over the year. This is the first time median gross weekly earnings in NI have exceeded £500. UK median gross weekly earnings for full-time employees increased by 2.2% to £550.
  • When adjusted for inflation, NI and UK earnings decreased over the year by 1.0% and 0.4% respectively.
  • NI earnings remained well below the UK average and were the third lowest of the 12 UK regions (an improvement in rank from 2016). The ratio of NI to UK gross weekly earnings for full-time employees has fallen over the last two years. However at 91% it still remains higher than the ratios recorded prior to 2015.

Greater increase in private sector earnings compared to public sector

  • The increase in median gross weekly earnings was more marked in the private sector than in the public sector. The full-time median gross weekly earnings in the private sector increased by 3.0% to £446, compared to a 1.0% increase in the public sector, to £623.
  •  Those in the lowest 10% of the private sector full-time weekly earnings distribution experienced a much larger increase (5.2%) than those in the highest 10% (0.7%). The majority of those in the bottom 10% are on the National Living Wage and this is a clear indication of its continued impact.
  • Full-time median weekly earnings in the private sector in NI were 28% lower than in the public sector at April 2017. In the UK, the equivalent median gross weekly earnings for full-time employees were 11% lower in the private sector than in the public sector.
  • Earnings of public sector employees in NI were 4.0% higher than in the UK, whilst earnings of private sector employees were 16.1% lower in NI than in the UK.

Annual earnings increase over the year

  • Annual earnings increased marginally (0.1%) for all full-time employees in NI over the year to £25,999, but remained lower than the UK median of £28,758 (2.0% increase from 2016).

Hourly earnings higher for full-time females than males

  • Full-time median hourly earnings for females (£12.67) were 3% greater than those for full-time males (£12.25).Full-time median hourly earnings for females in NI have been higher or equal to males since 2010. This is in contrast to the UK, where full-time median hourly earnings for males (£14.48) were 10% greater than those for full-time females (£13.16).
  • Full-time hourly earnings for females are higher than males as a greater proportion of females work in the highest paid occupation groups. Although the median part-time hourly earnings for females is also higher than males, when all employees are considered (both full-time and part-time) males earn more than females (by £1.00 an hour). This is because part-time workers earn less on average than full-time workers and a higher proportion of females than males are part-time.

Impact of the National Minimum/Living Wage

  • The proportion of employees paid close to the national minimum/living wage has increased. In 2007 8% of employees aged 22 and over were paid +/- 20p of the national minimum wage of £5.52. This can be compared to 11% of employees aged 25 and over who were paid +/- 20p of the national living wage of £7.50 in 2017.
  • The following graph shows the Hourly earnings distribution 2002-2017. The change in distribution shows the impact of minimum wage over the last 15 years

Paid hours

  • Total weekly hours worked by full-time employees increased by 0.2 hours over the year to 38.2 hours, and are now 0.7 hours higher than the UK.

Notes to editors: 

  1. ASHE is a UK wide survey of employers that provides information on hourly, weekly and annual earnings by gender, work pattern, industry and occupation. The sample comprises approximately 1% of all jobs in NI covered by Pay As You Earn (PAYE) schemes, and results relate to the pay-period including 26 April 2017.
  2. ASHE data are used by those who have an interest in NI economic and labour market policy. The figures are widely used to chart changes in NI earnings levels over time and relative to the rest of the UK. Government Departments require a variety of indicators, which measure the state of the labour market, including earnings across industries and occupations as well as for the public and private sector.
  3. The mean and the median measure different things and either can be appropriate depending on what the user is trying to measure. The mean measures the average amount earned by individuals, but in a skewed distribution such as earnings this measure is susceptible to small numbers of very high earners. The median measures the amount earned by the average individual, i.e. the level of earnings above which half the population fall. Please note that changes in median values for sub sectors of the population are not necessarily additive at the population level.
  4. The detailed statistical bulletin and tables are available on the NISRA website
  5. For media enquiries, please contact DfE Press Office on 028 9052 9604. Outside office hours, please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07623974383 and your call will be returned.
  6. Feedback is welcomed and should be addressed to:

Responsible statistician:

Brian Grogan, Economic & Labour Market Statistics (ELMS)


Tel: 028 9052 9311

Follow ELMS on Twitter - @ELMSNISRA

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