Average weekly earnings rose by 2.3% last year, according to preliminary estimates from the Central Statistics Office.

The average stood at €704.34 by the end of December 2014, according to the figures, compared to €688.78 in the same period of 2013.

The amount earned per hour was 1.7% higher at €22.11 by the end of last year, according to the CSO, while the average number of paid hours worked per week rose 0.6% to 31.9.

During the year the financial, insurance and real estate sectors saw the biggest increase in average weekly earnings, up 9.6% to €1,069.56.

People in the professional, scientific and technical sectors saw the biggest annual decline, meanwhile, down 3.6% to €787.51.

Over a four year period, however, those in the information and communications sector have enjoyed the largest increase in average weekly earnings – up 10% to €1,048.61.

The human health and social work sector have seen the sharpest decline in average weekly earnings since the end of 2010, meanwhile, down 6.3% to €672.53.