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The average gross salary of the country's 2.9 million salaried workers was NIS 8,172 a month as of May, an increase of 4.5% compared to May 2009 but 0.8% less than the average for April 2010, the Central Statistics Bureau reported yesterday.

The average salary of the country's 79,500 legal foreign workers was NIS 4,305 per month as of May.

Once again, the highest average salary was among employees of the Israel Electric Corporation and the Mekorot water utility, at NIS 20,484 a month, or 2.5 times the average in the workforce as a whole.

Employees at financial companies earned an average of NIS 16,911, which puts them ahead of public administration workers, who received NIS 12,273, and industrial employees, who got NIS 11,332.

The lowest monthly salaries were earned by people employed in education, at NIS 6,428; agriculture, at NIS 5,524; social services, NIS 5,312; and food and hospitality, NIS 3,965.