Bigger pay gaps between women in public and private sector than for men

Some women public servants are better paid than their private-sector counterparts, official figures suggest.

Central Statistics Office (CSO) research published on Tuesday shows no real clear trends in public versus private sector pay between 2019 and 2022.

However, statisticians do note that there are bigger pay gaps between women public and private sector workers than between men.

The CSO states that in 2022, women in the public sector had a differential ranging from a premium of 6.7 per cent over their private enterprise counterparts to a discount of 2.2 per cent.

When it came to men, the difference ranged from discounts of 4.5 per cent to 11 per cent. Both comparisons depended on specifications used in models that produced the statistics, the CSO said.

Statisticians caution that comparing pay between the two sectors is complex and that there is no clear, uniform method for calculating public-private sector pay gaps.

Darragh Turner, statistician in the CSO’s earnings analysis division, said there did appear to be a levelling off in the public-private sector pay differential between 2019 and 2022, with slight reductions from 2018 to 2020.

“Due to the impacts of Covid-19 on the labour market and earnings from 2020 to 2022, it is too early to see if reductions in the public-private pay differential between 2018 and 2020 are a definitive trend during this period,” he added.

The CSO points out that the research, geared at academics and policymakers, does not compare similar jobs between the public and private sectors.

The office notes that An Garda Síochána and Defence Forces are exclusively public service roles, while those working in accommodation, food services, manufacturing and building are found exclusively in private businesses.

In general, the research found that those on higher pay in the public service were worse off than private sector higher earners in gross pay terms.

The opposite held for those on lower pay, with public sector workers in these grades generally doing better than those employed by private organisations.


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