Irish incomes have now fallen to an estimated 8% below the EU average, wiping out any gains over the past decade or more, according to The Sunday Business Post, quoting a new report.

The average income has fallen to 1997 levels, with only people in Italy, Greece, Spain and Portugal now earning less.

The details are contained in the report of the independent review panel of the Department of Finance published last week.

“By 2003, Ireland had decisively moved above the EU average; in 2007 incomes peaked at 114% of the EU average,” the report states. “Just two years later, Irish incomes were once again below the … average and in 2010 are estimated to be 8 per cent below the average with only Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece recording lower levels of income.”

The strong growth during the 1990s was fuelled by enhanced competitiveness and export growth, while pending membership of the euro had encouraged inward investment. However, after 2000, the picture changed dramatically for the worst as investment in property contributed more to growth figures than exports.

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