Employee Earnings in Northern Ireland: October 2021 – Department for the Economy

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Date published: 26 October 2021
Employee Earnings in Northern Ireland, from the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings 2021, was published today by the Northern Ireland Statistics & Research Agency.
The report provides provisional estimates for 2021 and final revised estimates for 2020.
1. ASHE is a UK wide survey of employers that provides information on hourly, weekly and annual earnings by gender, work pattern, industry and occupation. The sample comprises approximately 1% of all jobs in NI covered by Pay As You Earn (PAYE) schemes. The reference date for the most recent survey was the pay-week (or other pay-period if the employee was paid less frequently) which included 21st April 2021.
2. The survey reference date (21st April) was within the time period for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) grant. This is the second consecutive year that the survey has included furloughed employees. The CJRS was first introduced to support employers from 1st March 2020 whose businesses were impacted by the pandemic. The first CJRS worked by providing grants to employers of up to 80% of the salary to a maximum value of £2,500 per employee per month, while covering some of the cost of employer pension and National Insurance Contributions. By April 2021, the scheme had changed so that employees could be fully furloughed, or flexi-furloughed, where earnings would be no less than 80%.
3. Final results showed that approximately 11% of all ASHE employee jobs were identified as furloughed and approximately 7% were identified as furloughed with reduced pay (i.e. earnings not topped up by their employer).  Users should note that the headline ASHE estimates therefore include those supported under the CJRS. The proportion of employees furloughed and on reduced pay from the survey returns is provided for context. These proportions should not be used as standalone furlough estimates. (Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme statistics are available online at the GOV.UK website)
4. Two new interactive outputs have been published this year for the first time. Firstly, a scrollytelling article, which presents the change in the earnings distribution in NI between 2002 and 2021, with particular focus on the impact of furlough over the last two years. Secondly, Employee earnings in 2021 and their change from 2019 offers two new interactive charts which show how earnings have changed since 2019 for different industry and occupation groups.
5. The headline measure of earnings from ASHE is median gross weekly earnings for full-time employees and is referred to as ‘weekly earnings’ for ease of reporting. A range of hourly, weekly and annual measures relating to full and part-time employees are available alongside the main bulletin at Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings.
6. ASHE data are used by those who have an interest in NI economic and labour market policy. The figures are widely used to chart changes in NI earnings levels over time and relative to the rest of the UK. Government Departments require a variety of indicators, which measure the state of the labour market, including earnings across industries and occupations as well as for the public and private sector.
7. The mean and the median measure different things and either can be appropriate depending on what the user is trying to measure. The mean measures the average amount earned by individuals, but in a skewed distribution such as earnings this measure is susceptible to small numbers of very high earners. The median measures the amount earned by the average individual, i.e. the level of earnings at which half the population are above and half the population are below. A visual explanation of this is available on the NIPSA website. Please note that changes in median values for sub-sectors of the population are not necessarily additive at the population level.
8. The Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) definitions of low pay and high pay are used. Low pay is defined as the value that is two-thirds of the UK median hourly earnings (e.g. £14.10 x 2/3 = £9.40 in 2021). High pay is defined as the value that is 1.5 times the UK median hourly earnings (e.g. £14.10 x 1.5 = £21.15 in 2021)
9. For media enquiries contact the Department for the Economy Press Office at: pressoffice@economy-ni.gov.uk.
10. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.The Executive Information Service operates an out-of-hours service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.
11. Follow us on twitter @Economy_NI or @NISRA
12. Feedback is welcomed and should be addressed to Responsible statistician: Ashleigh Warwick, Economic & Labour Market Statistics (ELMS) ashleigh.warwick@nisra.gov.uk or Tel: 028 902 55174.
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