Irish minimum wage workers more likely to be affected by Covid-19 than other EU countries
Ireland currently has one of the highest minimum wage rates in Europe.
Minimum wage workers in Ireland are more likely to be affected by the Covid-19 pandemic than other European Union countries, according to the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
A new study of data from 2017 and 2018 shows that during this time, 43% of minimum wage workers in Ireland were employed in the accommodation, food, wholesale or retail sectors, which is higher than any other European countries with a statutory minimum wage.
Given that these sectors experienced the greatest employment disruption due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the ESRI concluded "minimum wage workers in Ireland are likely to have been disproportionately impacted compared to their European counterparts".
However, the percentage of minimum wage workers at risk of poverty in Ireland during 2017 and 2018 (11%) was the lowest among all countries studied.
The ESRI said: "This is consistent with previous work that shows many minimum wage employees are located in high-income households."
Currently, 21 of the 27 EU member states, as well as the United Kingdom, have a statutory minimum wage.
After Luxembourg, Ireland has the second-highest minimum wage rate, though once differences in the cost of living are accounted for, the minimum wage in Ireland is the seventh-highest, behind Luxembourg, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, the United Kingdom and France.
During 2017 and 2018, the ESRI estimates that just under 10% of employees in Ireland were on the minimum wage.
This compares to an average of 10.5% among the countries studied, ranging from a high of almost 16% in Portugal, to just 2% in Belgium.
In response to the study, Chairman of the Low Pay Commission Dr Donal de Buitleir said in a statement: “I warmly welcome this report which increases our understanding of the serious impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on minimum wage workers in Ireland.
"It shows that of the countries studied we have the lowest percentage of minimum wage workers that are at risk of poverty and that, unlike other member states where women are heavily over-represented among minimum wage workers, in Ireland the gender composition was roughly 50/50.
"However, a disproportionately large number are shown to be less satisfied in their job compared to higher-paid workers.”
You can read the report in full here.