Employee Earnings in Northern Ireland: October 2022

Date published: 26 October 2022

Employee Earnings in Northern Ireland, from the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings 2022, was published today by the Northern Ireland Statistics & Research Agency.

Economic Output Statistics
Economic Output Statistics

The report provides provisional estimates for 2022 and final revised estimates for 2021.

Earnings continue to grow at a similar rate recorded pre-COVID

  • Median gross weekly earnings for full-time employees in April 2022 increased by 2.9% from £575 in 2021 to £592 in 2022. This year’s increase is at a similar rate to the trends seen pre-pandemic.
  • UK weekly earnings increased by 5.0% to £640. NI had the joint lowest increase in earnings across the 12 UK regions over the year and now ranks third lowest of the regions, with weekly earnings £48 below the UK average in 2022.
  • Real weekly earnings in NI showed the largest annual decrease on record (4.5%), following the largest annual increase on record to 2021 (7.0%). Real earnings are now 50p higher than they were in 2019 (0.1%). Real UK weekly earnings decreased over the year to a lesser extent (2.6%), and remain 1.1% below 2019 real earnings.

Private sector pay grows faster than public sector pay

  • Increases in weekly earnings were recorded for both the public and the private sector (3.1% and 7.3% respectively) over the year. The larger growth in the private sector has led to the smallest percentage difference in 20 years between the two sectors in NI (approximately 30%), as well as between NI and UK earnings in the private sector over the same period.
  • Real earnings in the public sector showed no growth over the last decade, which was in contrast to growth of 11% in real earnings in the private sector.

Proportion of low-paid jobs in NI is the lowest on record

  • Around 13% of all jobs in NI were ‘low-paid’ (based on OECD measure of low pay) in 2022. This is the lowest proportion in NI in 20 years but is the third highest proportion of the 12 UK regions.
  • The proportion of jobs paid below the National Living Wage (NLW) and National Minimum Wage (NMW), was 2.0% in 2022. This is almost double the pre-COVID 2019 rate (1.1%), but is well below the 2020 and 2021 rates (11% and 5.8%), where 90% of those below these rates were on furlough.

Gender pay gap in favour of males in NI

  • The gender pay gap for all employees (regardless of working pattern) in NI is in favour of males. Median hourly earnings (excluding overtime) for females (£12.82) was 8.4% below those for males (£13.99). This is an increase from the smallest gender pay gap on record in 2021 (4.7%), but is lower than the pre-pandemic rate (10%) and lower than the 15% gap recorded in the UK in the last three years.

Annual earnings increase over the year

  • Median annual earnings increased by 3.2% for all full-time employees in NI over the year to £30,000, but remained lower than the UK median of £33,000. The highest 10% of earners earned approximately £54,500 and above.


  • Median gross weekly earnings for full-time employees in NI increased by 2.9% over the year. NI earnings in 2022 were 11% higher than the pre-pandemic position (2019), which was the highest increase of all UK regions.
  • Real weekly earnings in NI recorded the largest annual decrease on record (4.5%) to 2022, which follows the largest increase on record to 2021 (7.0%). Real earnings are 0.1% higher than the pre-COVID position in 2019 and 4.2% higher than they were a decade ago. When considering public and private sector earnings over the last decade, the public sector showed no growth in real earnings, which is in contrast to growth of 11% in the private sector.
  • The proportion of low-paid jobs in NI fell over the year to a record low (13%), where the proportion has generally been falling since the introduction of the National Living Wage in 2016. However, despite these improvements, NI had the third highest proportion of all regions in the UK in 2022.

Notes to editors: 

1. The Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (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. The reference date for the most recent survey was the pay-week (or other pay-period if the employee was paid less frequently) which included 27th April 2022.

2. Whilst the survey reference date (27th April) was outside the time period for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) grant, annual earnings, which refer to the tax year ending 5th April 2022, will include the earnings of some employees who were fully furloughed, or flexi-furloughed, where earnings would be no less than 80%.

3. The headline measure of earnings from ASHE is median gross weekly earnings for full-time employees and is referred to as ‘weekly earnings’ for ease of reporting. A range of hourly, weekly and annual measures relating to full and part-time employees are available alongside the main bulletin at the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings page on the NISRA website.

4. 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.

5. 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 at which half the population are above and half the population are below. A visual explanation of this is available on the NISRA website. Please note that changes in median values for sub-sectors of the population are not necessarily additive at the population level.

6. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) definitions of low pay and high pay are used. Low pay is defined as the value that is two-thirds of the UK median hourly earnings (e.g. £14.77 x 2/3 = £9.85 in 2022). High pay is defined as the value that is 1.5 times the UK median hourly earnings (e.g. £14.77 x 1.5 = £22.16 in 2022)

7. To keep up to date with news from the Department you can follow us on the following social media channels:

8. For media enquiries contact the Department for the Economy Press Office at pressoffice@economy-ni.gov.uk

9. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

10. Follow NISRA on Twitter - @NISRA

11. Feedback is welcomed and should be addressed to the Responsible statistician: Ashleigh Warwick, Economic & Labour Market Statistics (ELMS), ashleigh.warwick@nisra.gov.uk or Tel: 028 902 55174.


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