Hours and earnings statistics published

Date published: 25 October 2018

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

Northern Ireland Labour Force Survey – Young People Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET)
Northern Ireland Labour Force Survey – Young People Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET)

Key Points

Weekly earnings increase in real terms, following a decrease in real earnings last year.

  • Median gross weekly earnings for full-time employees (“weekly earnings”) in April 2018 were £521, an increase of 4.2 per cent from £500 in 2017.  This is the largest increase recorded since 2015 (5.4 per cent ).
  • When adjusted for inflation, real earnings increased over the year by 2.0 per cent , following a decrease in real earnings the previous year.
  • While earnings in cash terms have generally been increasing each year since 2008 (with the exception of a decrease in 2014), real earnings have not. Real earnings were on a downward trend between 2009 and 2014, and an upward trend since 2014. Despite improvements since 2014 and the increase of 2.0 per cent  in real earnings over the year, real earnings are still below 2009 levels (£527).
  • At 4.2 per cent , the increase over the year in weekly earnings was the largest of the 12 UK regions. However, NI earnings have remained below the UK average over the past 20 years and in 2018, were the fifth lowest of the 12 UK regions.
  • In the UK, weekly earnings were £569, an increase of 3.5 per cent  from 2017 (£550). This is the largest increase in 10 years. When adjusted for inflation, UK weekly earnings increased by 1.2 per cent , which, similar to NI, followed a decrease in real earnings the previous year.

Increase in earnings driven by Private Sector

  • The increase in weekly earnings over the year was driven by increases in the private sector. Private sector weekly earnings increased by 4.5 per cent  over the year, while public sector weekly earnings decreased by 0.3 per cent . Private sector weekly earnings (£465) were 25 per cent  lower than public sector earnings (£621).
  • Increases in pay were experienced across the spectrum for private sector workers, with those in the lowest 10 per cent  of the earnings distribution experiencing an increase of 4.8 per cent and those in the top 10 per cent  experiencing a 5.5 per cent  increase.
  • Earnings in the public sector decreased marginally (0.3 per cent ), however remain above earnings in the private sector. Whilst public sector earnings in NI were similar to those in the UK, earnings in the private sector in NI remained below those in the UK and were equivalent to 85 per cent  of the UK private sector median.

NI remains only region in UK where full-time females earn more than males

  •  Median hourly earnings for full-time females (£12.94) were 3.5 per cent greater than those for full-time males (£12.50). This is the largest recorded difference in favour of females.
  • NI remains the only region in the UK where full-time females earn more per hour on average than full-time males. In the UK as whole full-time females earned 8.6 per cent  less per hour than full-time males.
  • The gender pay gap in NI is driven by a larger proportion of full-time females than males working in higher paid occupations, and in the public sector. When all employees (full-time and part-time employees) are considered, the gender pay gap is reversed, and males earn more on average than females. This is because a greater proportion of females than males are in part-time work, where average pay is lower.  It is explained visually at Median Hourly Earnings 2018 animated gif

 Annual earnings increase over the year

  • The median annual earnings for full-time employees in NI increased by 4.1 per cent  over the year to £27,006, but remained lower than the UK median of £29,574. The highest 10 per cent  of earners in NI earned above £48,941 per annum.

Highest proportion in the UK earning below the Real Living Wage

  • Approximately 1 per cent  of employees earned below the National Living Wage or National Minimum Wage, and 28 per cent  earned below the ‘Real Living Wage’.
  • The proportion below the National Living/Minimum Wage cannot be used as a measure of non-compliance with the minimum wage legislation. This is because it is not always possible to determine from the survey data whether an individual is eligible for the minimum wage. For example, if employees receive free accommodation, employers are entitled to offset hourly rates.
  • Those at the 10th percentile earned the same amount per hour as the current National Living Wage (£7.83). In contrast, those at the 10th percentile of the public sector (£9.95) earned more per hour than those at the 40th percentile of the private sector (£9.89).
  • The increase in hourly rates at the 10th percentile of the private sector pay distribution is in line with the increase in the National Living Wage, from £7.50 in 2017 to £7.83 in 2018. This is a clear indication of its impact on low pay.
  • Some of the difference between earnings in the public and private sector is due to differences in the composition of the workforces. Many of the lowest paid occupations exist primarily in the private sector, while there is a larger proportion of professional occupations in the public sector.
  • The ‘Real Living Wage’ (£8.75) is set by the Living Wage Foundation and recalculated each year. NI has the highest proportion (28 per cent ) of jobs paying less than the Real Living Wage, followed by East Midlands (27 per cent ) and Wales (26 per cent ). In the UK as a whole, 23 per cent  earn below the ‘Real Living Wage’.
  • The following interactive chart shows the hourly earnings distribution 2002-2018. Hourly Earnings distribution 2002 - 2018 interactive chart . The change in distribution shows the impact of minimum wage over the last 15 years.

Paid hours in NI remain above UK average

  • The total weekly hours worked by full-time employees in NI increased by 0.2 hours over the year to 38.3 hours. This is the third year of increases in paid hours in NI (from 37.9 hours in 2015 to 38.3 in 2018).
  • Total weekly paid hours in NI were 0.8 hours higher than the UK. NI paid hours, which have been consistently higher than the UK average over the past 10 years, were the highest of all the UK regions

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 per cent  of all jobs in NI covered by Pay As You Earn (PAYE) schemes, and results relate to the pay-period including 18 April 2018.
  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.  Local Government figures NI Geographies by place work and place residence (NISRA website) released today are used widely.
  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 at: Annual Survey Hours and Earnings (NISRA website)
  5. For media enquiries, please contact Department for the Economy Press Office on 028 9052 9604. Outside office hours, please contact the Duty Press Officer on 028 9037 8110 and your call will be returned.
  6. Feedback is welcomed and should be addressed to: Responsible statistician, Brian Grogan, Economic & Labour Market Statistics (ELMS), brian.grogan@nisra.gov.uk or tel: 028 9052 9311.
  7. Follow ELMS on Twitter - @ELMSNISRA

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