The latest NERI report on the economy predicts the Government will comfortably meet its deficit target this year on the back of strong GDP growth of 3.4%. The positive economic outlook is driven by continued employment growth and improved consumer demand. However, with 25% of workers earning less than the Living Wage of €11.45 an hour, the report raises a concern over the number of workers in low paid, precarious forms of employment. The NERI Quarterly Economic Observer, published on Thursday, 19th March, provides a comprehensive overview of the issue of low pay in Ireland. The report shows a link between low pay, low hours, and insecure forms of employment. It draws attention to the clear gender dimension to the issue of low wages, with 60% of those classified as low paid being female. It identifies low paid forms of employment being particularly prevalent for workers in retail, food and accommodation, and agriculture.NERI senior research officer, Micheál Collins, said: “While the economy continues to recover, a large proportion of workers remain in a position where their basic hourly wage fails to afford them an adequate standard of living. This issue is exacerbated by the link between low pay and short working hours.“The risk of a two-tiered recovery remains. Employment growth in the western and northern counties remains sluggish and contrasts with the situation in the Greater Dublin area where employment growth is much stronger.”NERI director, Tom Healy, said: 
“Our analysis shows a link between inadequate levels of pay, low hours and insecure forms of employment. How this issue is addressed will influence the continued strength of the economic recovery currently underway."