Official figures show that average weekly earnings in the public sector rose by 4.8% in the year to March to €909.22.

The figures, which exclude the health sector, show that the numbers working in the public sector increased by 3,200 over the year to 251,400.

The numbers working in the education sector rose by 4,900, while the privatisation of Aer Lingus led to a drop of 3,400 in numbers working in the semi-State sector in the period.

When health is included, overall public sector numbers rose by 10,500 over the year to 361,800, with a 7,100 increase in health service workers to 110,400.

The CSO points out, however, that the health figures are distorted by the inclusion in March this year of a number of grades and agencies which were not previously covered by the figures.