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Working to Live

7th April 2017


Well, maybe not, but now that we have your attention, how many of you got a bit of a bump up in your pay packet in the last year?

According to the team at recruitment company Abacus, just over half (well, 263 out of the 500 it surveyed, to be precise) of “professional” employees landed that particular pat on the back in 2016.

And of those who did, the average hike in wages was a not-to-be-sniffed-at 7.4%.

I know.

That is more than three times the rate of inflation – which currently stands at 2.3% – and probably a lot more than the majority of readers have received.

That may seem surprising, but don’t forget that the other 237 received nada, zilch, zunca, nothing, not a penny of a pay increase.

They, like many of us over the years since the downturn in 2008, have in effect been taking a pay cut because the cost of goods and services has been rising each year but pay packets have been standing still.

That means once essentials have been paid for, the amount of money left at the end of the month to spend on the things you actually want has actually shrunk.

That’s a bit depressing, so let’s concentrate on how we can up our chances of getting a pay rise.

According to Abacus’ survey, it appears my maths teacher was right all along and I should have been paying more attention.

Accountancy practise and analytics were the two professions you needed to have the best chance of obtaining a basic pay increase last year with 70% and 68% respectively dancing out of their boss’s office while compliance, software, qualified lawyers and commercial accountants weren’t far behind.

On the other side of that particular coin were those in legal support where only 40% notched up a pay rise, human resources with 36% and those hard put-upon sales types with just 24%.

Of course, it’s worth bearing in mind the survey was carried out amid amongst the upper echelons of the employment market when it comes to actual pay.

Take everyone into consideration and the sector split looks slightly, although not completely different.

Nailed down figures from our friends at the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) reveal that the human health and social work sectors saw the biggest pay increase last year with wages there rising 11.7%, followed by financial and insurance activities at 10.1% and real estate at 5.7%.

It also puts a figure on the average wage for full time employees in both the public and private sectors at £26,100 a year, a 1.4% increase on 2015.

That’s good but we’re still pretty far behind the £28,200 average wage recorded for the UK as a whole.

For an unexpected twist to the Northern Ireland wage story, look at the gender pay gap.

While men are consistently earning more than women across the rest of the UK, NISRA points out that women have, on average, been earning more than men in Northern Ireland since 2013.

NISRA said that is driven by the public sector, an area dominated by a female workforce, and points out that full-time female private sector hourly earnings were 83.1% of their counterparts in the UK.

Still, it’s not often we get to gloat about our progressive society so let’s take what we can.


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