Irish Economy
Irish Jobs: Policy flaws require Bruton's focus not spinning for headlines
By Michael Hennigan, Finfacts founder and editor
Nov 7, 2014 - 8:51 AM

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Irish Jobs: Richard Bruton, enterprise minister, is the frontman for the Government's permanent publicity campaign on jobs but he needs to allocate some time to address key policy flaws rather than spinning for media headlines.

The minister on Thursday attributed the "70,000 extra people at work" to the Action Plan for Jobs initiative which was launched in February 2012.

The official numbers in employment according to the latest CSO data show that 54,000 jobs were added between Q4 2011 and Q2 2014.

The number added between March 2011 when the current governing coalition took power and Q2 2014 was 60,000.

The rise in job numbers since March 2011 of 60,000 comprises 21,000 employees, an additional 15,000 in public-funded schemes and a rise of 24,000 in self-employment without employees - effectively one-person operations.

The number of full-time employees added was about 15,000 and at the end of June 2014, 130,000 people who were in part-time jobs wanted full-time work.

The number of full-time employees is a key metric as an indicator of potential for domestic demand in the economy.

In October 2014, there were 447,000 in receipt of Irish public employment payments - this included 71,452 casual and part-time workers and 76,000 in public schemes.

Irish Economy 2014: Numbers on Live Register + public schemes at 447,000 in October - 20% of workforce

Net emigration by Irish nationals in the period May 2009-April 2014, amounted to 124,000, according to estimates issued by the CSO last September.

Net emigration by Irish nationals at 124,000 in 2009-2014

The Action Plan for Jobs initiative is a quarterly 'to do' list of targets but it's not a strategy.

Richard Bruton said on Thursday: "Following on from the Budget announcements, the strong flow of investment and jobs from multinational companies has continued, with over 800 jobs announced by foreign companies in the past week."

Jobs from anywhere are welcome but the reason that 800 future jobs were announced by foreign companies in recent days is that the announcements were choreographed by the Government to coincide with the Web Summit.

Earlier in the week Bruton said that abolishing the water charges will halt job creation and lead to income tax hikes.

“If we do not do this you’re going to have to raise an alternative tax and it is very clear that tax would have worse impact on job creation that this one. By introducing this approach, we’ll be able to leverage double the amount of investment than if you didn’t have a charging system for water,” he said.

This suggests that job creation is on a rickety foundation and if Bruton's expressed views are authentic, it also reflects an enduring mindset hooked on getting ready-made jobs from foreign companies, similar to the 'call Paddy' routine of Enda Kenny, taoiseach, at the US Chamber of Commerce headquarters in Washington DC last March.

Policy flaws

The flagship enterprise policy to make the tech sector a jobs engine was put in place by Richard Bruton's predecessors and he remains a cheerleader despite increasing evidence of failure.

We published a comprehensive analysis of the lack of a credible strategy last weekend - Dublin Web Summit 2014: Separating hype and reality

The Organisation  for Economic Cooperation and Development's (OECD) Economic Survey of Ireland published in September 2013, recommended empirically-proven policies and sunset clauses in enterprise and innovation supports but there is no experience of this in the Irish system.

It said the number of programmes and agencies multiplied during the period of booming growth. "There are now over 170 separate budget lines, sometimes for very small amounts of money, and 11 major funding agencies involved in disbursing the Science Budget, although it is small by international standards."

Focus limited fiscal resources on policies empirically-proven to improve employability; this will require systematic evaluation of labour-market programmes through consistent tracking and randomised trials, followed by decisions to close down ineffective schemes while strengthening successful ones.

Reflecting significant uncertainties about the effectiveness of various innovation policy tools, independently and regularly evaluate all actions in this area, strengthen programmes with proven higher returns, and wind down the others. To promote effective evaluation, ensure all innovation and enterprise supports have sunset clauses."

This would be a good thing! Where are the actions?

Wonder why Richard Bruton's Department planned to delay the publication of 2013 Irish Patents Office report to the quiet month of August and only published it on July 31 when Finfacts publicly raised the issue?

Wonder also why there was no ministerial press release coinciding with the publication? Hint: who wants to take credit for bad news!

How can there be good policy making if a minister does not openly address challenges or downsides?

Irish resident patenting not suggestive of 'world class knowledge economy'

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