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News : Irish Last Updated: Apr 24, 2009 - 5:31:05 PM

Quarterly National Household Survey: Irish unemployment rate rises to 5.1%; Non-Irish national labour force growth falls to 25,700; 24,800 unemployed non-Irish nationals
By Finfacts Team
Aug 20, 2008 - 12:11:25 PM

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The CSO says in the Quarterly National Household Survey, Quarter 2, 2008 today that total number of persons in the labour force in the second quarter of 2008 was 2,223,900, representing an increase of 22,000 or 1.0% over the year. This compares with an annual labour force growth of 4.2% or 88,000 in the second quarter of 2007. The overall participation rate for the second quarter of 2008 is 63.4%, compared with a rate of 63.7% for Q2 2007. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose to 5.1%. Non-Irish national growth fell to 25,700 while there were 24,800 unemployed non-Irish nationals.

Employment grew by 6,900 or 0.3% over the year, bringing the total number of persons employed to 2,108,500. The annual growth rate for Q2 2007 was 4.0%. Female employment increased by 21,500 or 2.4% while male employment declined by 14,600 or 1.2% over the year.

Employment in the Construction sector decreased by 26,800 or 9.5% in the year to the second quarter of 2008, compared with an annual growth rate of 6.3% to the second quarter of 2007. The annual decrease in construction was attributable to a decline in the number of male employees (-27,700).

The sectors which showed the strongest growth in employment, were Wholesale and retail trade (+16,200), Health (+10,700) and Financial and other business services (+10,400). In addition to Construction, the sectors which showed a decrease in employment over the year were Other production industries (-8,800), Hotels and restaurants (-3,700) and Transport, storage and communication (-3,000).

Main Results Q2 2008
Change in Quarter
Change in Year
Labour Force

All of the increase in unemployment attributable to males

There were 78,000 males and 37,500 females unemployed in the second quarter of 2008, bringing the total number of unemployed to 115,500, an increase of 15,200 (+15.2%) in the year. All of the increase in the number of unemployed is attributable to males (+18,000), with the number of unemployed females declining by 2,800 over the year.

Non-Irish national labour force growth falls to 25,700

There were an estimated 484,000 Non-Irish nationals aged 15 and over in the State in the second quarter of 2008. Of these 337,800 were in employment, while a further 24,800 were unemployed according to ILO criteria.

This gives a total Non-Irish national labour force of 362,500, up 25,700 (+7.6%) in the year, less than half the annual growth for Q2 2007 (+54,900). Nationals of the new EU Accession states were the fastest-growing group in the labour force (+16,900). Non-Irish nationals now account for 16.3% of the labour force compared to 15.3% in Q2 2007.

The number of Non-Irish nationals in employment increased by 21,500 (+6.8%) in the year, while there was a decrease of 14,600 (-0.8%) in employment for Irish nationals. The number of unemployed Non-Irish nationals increased by 4,300, representing 28.3% of the increase in the number of unemployed persons.

Lynsey Clemenger, economist at Ulster Bank commented: "Though employment growth was still positive over the year, the rise of 0.3% represents a significant slowdown from the 4% increase in the second quarter of 2007.
 Unemployment rose by 14,700, or 15%, in the year to Q2 08. The unemployment rate rose to 5.1% from 4.8% in the previous quarter. The corresponding estimate from the Live Register was 5.2%, and therefore this estimate will be revised down in line with the official QNHS estimates.
 Although modest downward revisions to the Live Register estimate of unemployment generally take place, the significant rise in the unemployment rate in June and July to 5.6% and 5.9% respectively, signals a further sharp rise in the unemployment rate in the Q3 QNHS figures.
 Whilst some may take comfort in the modestly positive annual QNHS employment numbers, the quarter-on-quarter (qoq) changes present a much duller picture. In Q2 08 total employment fell by 15,400 or 0.7%. Over the same period the labour force fell by 7,100, whilst the participation rate remained at 63.7%.
 As expected, the falloff in construction employment was the primary drag on the Q2 employment figures. In 2007 we forecast a decrease in construction employment in the region of 30,000. The latest official figures for Q2 are in line with this estimate, showing a 26,800 of 9.5% drop in the year to Q2 2008.
 The breakdown of the job losses in construction by housing and non-housing provides further evidence of the extent of the slowdown in residential construction. From Q1 housing related construction employment has fallen by almost 20,000. From the peak in Q1 07 the losses have been almost 46,000.
 On a qoq basis the numbers employed in construction have been falling since Q2 07. The declines had been surprisingly modest, however a significantly larger decrease occurred in Q2 08, when the numbers employed in construction fell by 17,800, or 6.5%, from the first quarter.
 This indicates that whilst job losses in the construction sector have been taking place for some time now, the bulk of the losses took place in Q2 08. Whilst we expect to continue to observe decreases in construction employment, the falloff in coming quarters will likely by more moderate.
 On a more positive note, increases in employment in Wholesale and retail trade, Health, and Financial and Business Services, worked to offset some but not all of the employment losses in other sectors.
 In recent years there has been strong growth in the number of non-Irish workers. While still increasing (+25,700 over the year), the rate of increase slowed significantly in Q2. It is particularly interesting to note that whilst the employment of Irish nationals fell by 14,600 in the year to Q2 08, the employment of non-Irish nationals actually rose by 21,500. Driving this rise was the increase in non-national employment in the Wholesale and retail trade sector (+14,300).
 Today’s figures confirm the sharp deterioration in the Irish labour market in recent months. We expect to observe a continued deterioration in coming quarters, against the backdrop of a worsening economic environment."

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