Average weekly earnings in the public sector, excluding health employees, rose by 9% to €702 last year, according to new figures published by the Central Statistics Office.

The figures also show that the total numbers employed in the public sector, excluding those in the health sector, rose by 10,000 to 230,000.

These employment increases include 4,000 extra people in the education sector; 2,300 in semi-state companies; 2,100 in the civil service; and 1,800 in regional bodies.

This means that the public sector pay bill outside of health rose by 14%, or more than €1bn in 2001.