THE ONLY way many Fermanagh workers are able to earn close to an average wage is by leaving the county for work, new figures appear to suggest.
The NI Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings, published recently by the NI Statistics and Research Agency, included a swathe of information on the various levels of wages people across the North are being paid. It revealed some surprisingly local results, however all is not as it seems.
The report showed people who lived in Fermanagh got paid close to the average wage for across the North, at £487.90 per week. That figure includes all workers, both full and part time, and on both high and low wages. The median pay for people living in Fermanagh, which is the middle value that is not skewed by the high or low wages, was actually slightly higher than the northern median, at £430.80 per week.
As local councillor and trade union activist Donal O’Cofaigh has noted, however, when one looks at the figures for those who work in Fermanagh, as opposed to those who live here, local wages are significantly below both the average and the median.
Cllr O’Cofaigh said the figures pointed to low wages here in the county.
“The people who live in Fermanagh but maybe work elsewhere, possibly people commuting a huge distance, are pulling the figures up,” he said.
The figures were released the same week as another government report, which showed people in Fermanagh reported the second lowest ‘locus of control’ in the North, after Derry and Strabane, which indicates people here do not feel in control of their lives. Cllr O’Cofaigh was not surprised by that report, given the lack of work available.
“The difference between those working in the county and those living in the county demonstrates people in the county are having to travel huge distances to get decent work. If you’re in that scenario you’re obviously less in control of your life,” he said.
Cllr O’Cofaigh added we also work long hours, leading to a poor work life balance.. Encouraging union membership, he also called for greater investment in Fermanagh.
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