We have a housing crisis, a homeless crisis, a health crisis, an investment crisis; our education system is under-resourced, our indigenous enterprise sector is out to lunch and the Dail can’t seem to put together a government.
And if all that wasn’t bad enough, we are under-paid.
Some new data regarding employee compensation and wage levels in Europe has come on stream. Here we will review the headline figures. Over the next few weeks we’ll get into the detail.
First up is a comparison of employee compensation. Employee compensation combines both the direct wage the employer pays you and the social wage which the employer pays to a social insurance fund that allows you access to income supports and public services (e.g. health). This is the standard measurement of workers’ wages, used by the CSO, Eurostat, OECD, etc. So at a total-economy level, how do we compare with other EU-15 countries?
There’s Ireland – below the EU-15 average and in 10th place, only ahead of low-pay UK and the poorer Mediterranean countries (the data can be found here and here. To get to the EU-15 average we’d need an increase of 6 percent – but we’d still be in a lowly 10th place.
However, when we look at other central and northern European countries (removing the four peripheral Mediterranean countries), we fall well behind. We’d need an increase of 18 percent.
Employee compensation is not equal to ‘labour costs’ (I really hate that value-laden term). In some other countries, employers pay higher payroll taxes than just employee compensation. For instance, in Sweden, employers pay a social wage (social insurance) of 17 percent of the workers’ wage. However, they also pay an additional 12 percent in other payroll taxes – money that can go into public services and income supports not related to social insurance. In Austria, employers pay 17 percent in social wage and another 7 percent in payroll taxes. In Ireland, employers pay 8 percent social wage and another 0.5 percent in payroll taxes.