Average weekly earnings fell 1.1% in the second quarter of 2014 when compared to a year ago, according to preliminary estimates from the Central Statistics Office.

The figures follow a slight fall in the first three months of the year and mark a year of continuous declines in average earnings.

The largest percentage decrease during the second quarter of 2014 was in the sector covering arts, entertainment, recreation and other service activities, which saw weekly earnings fall by 5.3%.

Meanwhile the construction sector experienced a 6% increase in average weekly earnings during the quarter, from €698.27 to €739.96.

Average earnings in the private sector showed a decrease of 0.3% in Q2, compared with a 1% decrease in the public sector. 

When semi-state bodies are excluded, the decline in public sector incomes rises to 1.5%.

With that category, the health and defence sectors experienced the greatest decline in weekly earnings of 3.1% over the year.

The estimated number of persons employed in the public sector also showed a reduction of 1% over the year to Q2.

The average hourly earnings were €21.63 in Q2 2014, decreasing by 1.7% when compared with the previous year, with a decrease of 0.3% recorded in average hourly earnings in Q1. 

The information and communication sector's average hourly earnings rose 9.5% to €28.01, while the largest percentage decrease came from the human health and social work sector. 

Private sector average hourly earnings decreased 0.5%, compared with a 3.1% decline in hourly earnings in the public sector in the second quarter of the year. 

Average weekly paid hours were 31.8 in Q2 2014, which represented an increase of 0.6%, over the year, while Ireland's hourly labour cost index decreased by 0.2% from Q1 2013 to Q2 2014.