NI full-time workers' earnings drop despite UK rise

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A typical full-time employee in Northern Ireland saw their annual earnings fall by 0.2% this year, according to a government survey.

In comparison, a typical full-time employee in the UK as a whole saw their wages rise by 2.1%, which is still below the rate of inflation.

A typical full-time worker in Northern Ireland earned £23,900, compared to £27,000 in the UK overall.

The details were contained in the annual survey of hours and earnings.

The UK-wide survey of employers was based on a 1% sample of employee jobs

It is drawn from HM Revenue and Customs' Pay As You Earn (PAYE) records.

Gender gap

The figures also suggest that when all workers - both full and part-time - are considered, the private sector saw a typical increase of 1.4%.

In the public sector, the rise was just 0.8%.

Northern Ireland public sector full-time earnings continued to be significantly higher than in the private sector - the difference is just over 45%.

Women in particular benefit in the public sector, earning 78% more than their private sector counterparts.

The public/private sector gap is much more marked than in the UK overall, where public sector full-time earnings were 17% higher than in the private sector.

However, the statisticians who compiled the report cautioned that some of the difference between the public and private sector figures were likely due to differences in the composition of the respective workforces.

"Such differences should be taken into account when making comparisons," they said.

Many of the lowest paid occupations, such as hospitality and retail, exist almost exclusively in the private sector, while in the public sector there is a larger proportion of graduate-level and professional occupations.

The figures also suggest some full-time female workers in Northern Ireland now earns more than their male counterparts.

In 2012, the female/male hourly earnings ratio reached parity, and in the year to April 2013 it tipped slightly in favour of women.

However, when using annual wages as a measure, the gap continues to favour men by 6.2%.

Full-time male earnings in Northern Ireland continued to be the lowest of any UK region.

However, full-time female earnings were fourth highest amongst the regions, with only women in London, the South East and Scotland earning more.

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