Employee earnings in Northern Ireland 2023

Date published: 01 November 2023

Employee Earnings in Northern Ireland, from the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) 2023, was published today. The report provides provisional estimates for 2023 and final revised estimates for 2022.

ASHE data is now available on the new NISRA Data Portal, allowing users to build their own bespoke tables and 2023 ASHE headline results are summarised in charts and maps in the new ASHE Dashboard.

Weekly earnings saw the second largest annual increase on record

  1. Median gross weekly earnings for full-time employees in April 2023 increased by 7.4% from £597 in 2022 to £641 in 2023. This year’s annual increase is the second largest on record.
  2. UK weekly earnings increased by 6.2% to £682 in April 2023, the largest annual increase on record.
  3. NI had the second largest increase in earnings across the 12 UK regions over the year and now ranks fifth lowest of the regions, with weekly earnings around £40 below the UK average in 202
  4. In real terms (that is, adjusted for inflation) weekly earnings in NI decreased by 0.3% over the year to April 2023, which is the second consecutive real terms decrease, following the largest annual decrease on record to April 2022 (3.7%). Real weekly earnings in the UK saw a larger decrease over the year (1.5%) than NI.

Private sector pay grows faster than public sector pay

  1. Increases in weekly earnings were recorded for both the public and the private sectors (0.1% and 9.3% respectively) over the year. The larger growth in the private sector has led to the smallest percentage difference in 20 years between the two sectors in NI (approximately 22%), as well as between NI and UK earnings in the private sector (12%) over the same period.
  2. Over the year to 2023, real earnings in the public sector fell by 7.2%, which was in contrast to an increase of 1.4% in the private sector. Over the last two decades, real earnings in the public sector showed no growth, compared to a growth of 13% in real earnings in the private sector since 2003.

Proportion of low-paid jobs in NI is the lowest on record

  1. Around 11% of all jobs in NI were ‘low-paid’ (based on OECD measure of low pay) in 2023. This is the lowest proportion in NI in 20 years but is the joint highest proportion of the 12 UK regions.
  2. The proportion of jobs paid below the National Living Wage (NLW) and National Minimum Wage (NMW), was 1.3% in 2023. This is similar to last year (1.0%) and pre-COVID levels (1.1% in 2019) and is well below the 2020 and 2021 rates (11% and 5.8%), where 90% of those below these rates were on furlough.

Gender pay gap in favour of males in NI

  1. The gender pay gap for all employees (regardless of working pattern) in NI is in favour of males. Median hourly earnings (excluding overtime) for females (£13.75) was 7.8% below those for males (£14.92). This is slightly wider than the 2022 gender pay gap (7.5%) but is lower than rates prior to 2020 and lower than the gap recorded in the UK in the last three years (between 14% and 15%).

Annual earnings in NI are lower than in the UK

  1. Median annual earnings for full-time employees in NI were £32,900 in 2023, lower than the UK median of £35,000. The highest 10% of earners earned at least £59,000.

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