In April 2017 the official Irish rate of unemployment was at 6.2% according to the Central Statistics Office (CSO) while we estimate the broad jobless rate at about 15%.


Update May 11, 2017: ECB says broad rate of Eurozone unemployment in 15% - 18% range

The official rate is based on an International Labour Organisation definition of employment as at least one hour of paid work per week while for example the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) defines its broad rate as "persons marginally attached to the labor force, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of a labor force"in effect the unemployed, the underemployed and the discouraged or people who are not available for work in the short-term through for example illness.

In our Irish definition we add the numbers in government job schemes who are officially counted as employed but paid from public funds just as casual workers are included in the monthly Live Register as they receive unemployment-related welfare payments.

We recognise the dramatic improvement in the jobs market since the peak of the official rate at 15.2% in January 2012, when the broad rate was at 25%.

We also recognise claims by the Government that a 6% official rate means full-employment as invalid when there is a broad rate of 15%.

According to Eurostat this month the lowest unemployment rates in March 2017 in the EU were recorded in the Czech Republic (3.2 %), Germany (3.9 %) and Malta (4.1 %). The highest rates were observed in Greece (23.5 % in January 2017) and Spain (18.2 %). The Euro Area seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate was 9.5 % in March 2017, down from 10.2% in March 2016. The EU-28 unemployment rate was 8.0 % in March 2017, down from 8.1 % in February 2017 and from 8.7 % in March 2016.

According to the BLS this month, the US official rate was at 4.4% in April and the broad rate was 8.6%.

The number on the Irish Live Register in April 2017 was 264,400 and there were 67,400 in government jobs schemes resulting in a total of 331,000 — as a ratio of the CSO's April 2017 estimate of the workforce size 2.194m, we get 15%.

As a crosscheck, when we take the CSO's estimate of unemployment at 136,000 in April and add the number in government schemes plus data from December's Quarterly National Household Survey: 92,000 part-time workers seeking full-time work; 32,000 in the "Potential additional workforce" we get a total of 327,000.

In March 2008 just before the onset of the property bust the official rate was at 5% and the broad rate was at 11%: 250,000 people compared with 330,000 today.

Image on Top: Eurostat's March 2017 harmonised official unemployment rates

Ireland jobs 2017