Irish Economy
Analysis: Irish full-time employee numbers up 14,000 in year; Broad jobless rate at 21%
By Michael Hennigan, Finfacts founder and editor
Nov 26, 2014 - 2:37 PM

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Irish full-time employee numbers grew by 14,000 in the 12 months to the third quarter of 2014 and remain 258,000 below the Q2 2008 level, just before the economic crisis became a full-scale emergency, according to today's data from the CSO. Meanwhile the broad jobless rate is at 21% of the workforce.

The number in full-time employee positions is at 50% of the number of jobs added in the period:

SEE CSO data: Irish Economy 2014: Net jobs grew by 27,700 in 12 months to third quarter

The number of full-time employees are important in relation to domestic demand as these members of the workforce are getting regular wages.

  • The official number unemployed is 239,500 with an unemployment rate of 11.1% - adding the 75,600 in public schemes gives a rate of 14.6%;
  • The employment total numbers include 56,000 in public schemes who are unemployed, but are categorised as employed and 20,000 unemployed who are not counted as they are in 'Back to Education' courses;
  • The CSO's Quarterly National Household survey shows that 124,000 part-time workers or 6% of the workforce wish to have full-time work and that brings the broad rate of unemployment to 20.6% - using a definition similar to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • The rise of 28,000 jobs in the 12 months to September 2014, comprises: 14,000 full-time employees; 4,000 part-time employees; 4,000 in one-person self employment; 3,000 in public schemes and a net of 1,000 in other self-employment.
  • Since the current governing coalition came to power in 2011, 85,000 jobs have been added: 34,000 full-time employees have been added; 10,000 part-time staff; 27,000 in one-person self employment; 15,000 in public schemes and a net -1,000 in other categories.

Self-employed workers who work at least one hour each week are regarded as employed.

In 2008 part-time workers comprised 18% of employment but since the economic bust that the number has been consistently at about 24%.

Fergal O’Brien, chief economist of Ibec, the main Irish business lobby group, commented: "Employment growth remains the best indicator of Ireland’s economic health. Today's figures are consistent with our forecast that unemployment will fall below 11% by the end of 2014 and that overall employment will return to early 2009 levels by the end of 2015. However, this is still expected to be a full 185,000 below its mid-2007 peak. Although this will be partly driven by demographic factors it underlines the long road Ireland’s labour market must still travel to recovery.

“The composition of employment growth is the most promising feature of today’s release. Last year’s spectacular employment growth figures were driven by part-time hiring as firms tentatively re-entered the labour market. The slowdown in overall employment growth in the first half of 2014 reflected a switch from part-time to full-time jobs growth, today’s figures are a clear indicator of the domestic economy recovering as the strong employment growth is almost all full-time.

“There have been annual increases in ten out of fourteen sectors, construction was a particular stand-out adding 7,000 jobs annually. These rises in construction are reflective of increasing investment, albeit from a historically very low level. With construction employment down 161,500 or 60% on its peak, the recovery in employment in the sector is likely to be a significant factor in reducing damaging long-term unemployment.”

Conall Mac Coille, chief economist at Davy, commented - "Today’s Irish labour market data for Q3 point to another strong performance in 2014. Employment grew by 0.5% on the quarter, up 1.5% on the year. Total employment is now estimated at 1.93m, its highest level since 2009. This means that the unemployment rate has now been revised down to 10.9% in October. The long-term unemployment rate is estimated at 6.4%, down from 7.6% a year ago.

Official jobs figures for the first half of 2014 had seemed puzzlingly weak given buoyant income tax receipts and declining numbers of social welfare claimants. The PMI surveys for construction, manufacturing and services have also indicated that employers have continued to add jobs in 2014. Employment is still estimated to have been flat in Q1 2014 and up just 0.2% in Q2. But the strong 0.5% rise in employment in Q3 brings the official jobs figures more into line with other indicators.

That said, the 1.5% growth in employment in the year to Q3 is still weaker than the 2.4% recorded in 2013. Part of the explanation for the slowdown in employment growth is cuts in public sector jobs, down 1.6% in the year to Q3 2014. On the year, public sector employment has fallen by 6,000 to 370,300. Private sector employment has performed better, up 2.2% on the year. Another feature of the Irish labour market is that workers in part-time jobs are moving into full-time employment. Full-time employment grew by 1.8% in the year to Q3, with part-time jobs down 0.4%.

In the first three quarters of 2014, employment increased by 34,000 compared with the same period in 2013. The key sectors contributing to growth have been hotels and restaurants (+7,900), professional and scientific (+7,800) and construction (+5,500). Industrial sector employment has fallen by 2,300 and wholesale and retail trade employment by 2,000. As in 2013, a mixture of a bounce-back in hard-hit sectors such as tourism and construction, and buoyant jobs growth in export-facing professional and scientific sectors has driven employment growth."

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