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Earnings drop for second year

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ISLANDERS’ earnings have dropped in real terms for the second consecutive year, according to new statistics.

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Average weekly earnings were 2.6% higher in June than in the same month of 2018 – but when taking inflation into account were 0.2% below last June’s level.

Over the last ten years average earnings have dropped by 3% in real terms.

The mean average weekly pay in Jersey is now £770.

Some sectors saw significant rises in weekly pay, including hospitality, which saw its greatest recorded rise for more than ten years – with pay rises averaging 4.9%.

Other statistics included in the report are:

  • Average earnings increased by just 0.2% from 2001 and 2019 when compared against RPI
  • Ignoring RPI, average earnings have more than tripled since 1990.
  • Workers in the financial services sector earn the most in Jersey with an average weekly wage of £1,050 – £50 more than those working in the public sector and £150 more than those working in the electricity, gas and water industries.

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  • Those working in hotels, restaurants and bars earn the least of any sector, a mean average of around £460 a week – £60 less than those in wholesale and retail and £110 less than those in agriculture.
  • Due in part to the implementation of 2018 and 2019 pay awards, average earnings in the public sector increased by 4.8% before RPI – the highest annual increase since 2010.

Simon Soar, chief executive of the Jersey Hospitality Association, said that it had become more difficult each year to retain staff.

‘There are a number of factors but we are trying to balance things like rent and raise wages to compensate. Rents have gone up significantly disproportionately to RPI,’ he said.

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‘One person I spoke to found a room for one of his employees and they wanted £800 a month. We have to now pay higher wages or there is no point in people staying here.’

He added: ‘Since Romania and Poland joined the EU, their economies have stabilised, there are more jobs and there has been a decrease in unemployment. When we first started bringing Poles and Romanians over their economy was very unstable but it is no longer favourable to stay here when they can easily stay at home.’

And Mr Soar added that Brexit had played a role in the increase and could threaten the viability of the Island’s industry altogether.

‘Since the Brexit vote, the pound has experienced a monumental drop in value – so obviously staff are getting less for their money – and it will not get any better as we head towards a no-deal Brexit.

‘If the UK stops letting people into the Common Travel Area without visas that could have a serious effect for people wanting to do a season’s work. If you look at visas for non-EU countries at the moment, they are expensive and they are not the easiest thing to secure.’

Mr Soar, who has over 17 years’ experience in the hospitality sector, added that there was already a shortage of 400 workers last year and that venues could close across the Island if this continued.

‘That is a cold, hard fact – it is not a scare tactic. Each year my members say “it has not been this bad before”. It is not going to be able to get much worse before restaurant, hotel and bar owners turn around and say “I’m done.”.’

Ed Taylor

By Ed Taylor
Journalist

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