1 in 4 Northern Ireland workers do not earn enough for a decent standard of living

Sterling notes

The Nevin Economic Research Institutel published its latest Quarterly Economic Observer today Tuesday 25th March. In it, we examine the extent of low pay across Northern Ireland:

  • 25% of workers earn less than the 'Living Wage' (169,000).
  • 17% are officially classified as low paid (115,000) and 9% (61,000) earn only the National Minimum Wage or less.
  • Young people, women and those in part-time work are most at risk
  • Upper Bann, North Antrim, East L'Derry and Newry & Armagh are hotspots for low pay.
  • Low Pay is widespread in sectors such as Accommodation, Food, Retail, Residential and Social Care.

Northern Ireland has significantly higher levels of low pay than any other UK region and low pay is of most concern in sectors of the economy that are growing. This level of low pay is a serious threat to the domestic economy and any chance of recovery.

Consideration needs to be given to:

  • Enforcing the National Minimum Wage;
  • Promoting the Living Wage across the Northern Ireland economy; and
  • Examining the case for sectoral wage agreements.

The full report is available here

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Paul Mac Flynn


Paul Mac Flynn is co-director of the Nevin Economic Research Institute and is based in the Belfast office. In addition to managing the Belfast office he has co-responsibility for the NERI's research programme and for its strategic direction.  

He leads on the NERI’s analysis of the Northern Ireland economy along with all research into the impact of the United Kingdom‘s departure from the European Union. Other research areas include regional productivity, the all-island economy and the future of work.

He is a graduate of University College Dublin with a BA in Economics and Politics and the University of Bristol with an MSc in Economics and Public Policy, specialising in the economic impacts of political devolution in the UK.

Contact: [email protected] or 00 44 28 9024 6214.