Average annual earnings increased by 3.3% to €38,871 in 2018 from €37,637 in 2017, new figures from the Central Statistics Office show. 

The CSO said this compares to an annual increase of 1.9% in 2017 from €36,933 in 2016. 

Today's figures show that average annual earnings for full-time employees last year rose by 2.6% to €47,596 while the average for part-time employees were €17,651 - an increase of 3.5% on 2017.

Average annual earnings have recovered since the downturn, rising by 8.1% from €35,951 in 2013 to €38,871 in 2018. 

Average annual earnings for full-time employees were up 6.5% in the five-year period from €44,709 in 2013, to €47,596 in 2018. 

And average annual earnings for part-time employees increased from €15,802 in 2013, to €17,651 in 2018, an increase of 11.7%. 

Meanwhile, total earnings rose to €71.5 billion in 2018, an increase of 7.4% on 2017. 

The CSO said the increase was driven by a rise in the average numbers employed of 4%, a 2.8% increase in average hourly earnings and a 0.4% increase in average weekly hours worked. 

The largest percentage increase in wages last year was seen in information and communication sector where average annual earnings rose from €56,758 to €61,269 - an increase of 7.9%. 

Average annual earnings in the construction sector rose by 5.7%, rising from €38,391 to €40,561. 

But the public administration and defence sector recorded the lowest average annual earnings growth of 1.7% in the year, with wages increasing from €48,907 to €49,724. 

Today's figures also reveal that the total cost of employing labour increased by 7.1% in 2018 with total annual labour costs reaching €82.7 billion. 

Total annual labour costs have increased each year between 2013 and 2018, the CSO added. 

The industry sector had the highest total annual labour costs of €12.7 billion in 2018 followed by the wholesale and retail trade sector (€10.6 billion) and the human health and social work sector (€10 billion). 

The administrative and support services sector and the Arts, entertainment, recreation and other services activities sector had the lowest total annual labour costs of €3.5 billion and €1.6 billion respectively.