New figures from the Central Statistics Office show that average weekly earnings stood at €769.98 in the first quarter of the year.

This marked an increase of 3.4% from the figure of €744.76 the same time last year, preliminary estimates from the CSO's Earnings and Labour Costs Quarterly release show. 

The CSO said the highest average weekly earnings of €1,257.47 were recorded in the Information and Communication sector, followed by the Financial, insurance and real estate activities sector at €1,230.21.

The lowest average weekly earnings of €353.67 were seen in the Accommodation and food service activities sector and €511.94 in the Arts, entertainment, recreation and other service activities sector. 

The CSO also noted that in the five years to 2019, average weekly earnings rose by 10% from €699.67 in the first quarter of 2014 to €769.98 in the first quarter of this year. 

All sectors recorded increases in the past five years, ranging from between 21.2% in the Information and Communication sector and 4.6% in the Public administration and defence sector. 

Today's CSO figures also show that average hourly earnings increased by 2.3% between the first quarter of 2018 and and the first quarter of 2019 - rising from €23.40 to €23.93. 

They also reveal that average weekly paid hours increased by 1.3% from 31.8 to 32.2. 

The CSO also said that average weekly earnings increased by 1.2% across the public sector and by 4.2% across the private sector in the year to the end of March.

Meanwhile, the job vacancy rate at the end of March this year stood at 1%, unchanged from 1% the same time last year.