Ireland has one of the highest median hourly earnings in the EU. However, this indicator needs to be set in context with reference to labour costs faced by employers and living standards experienced by workers.
Compulsory social contributions of employers are low in Ireland in an EU context. When comparing standards of living a focus on median earnings ignores the benefits workers in many other EU countries receive from employers’ social contributions. In terms of labour cost competitiveness (not to be confused with the wider concept of competitiveness), ignoring these contributions overstates the costs of Irish labour for employers relative to other member-states.
Ireland is actually below the UK and the EU-19 average in business economy total labour costs.
In addition, Ireland has a low standard of living as measured by ‘Actual Individual Consumption’ relative to the EU28 average, sitting just above Portugal and Spain toward the bottom end of the table.