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News : Irish Economy Last Updated: Apr 14, 2014 - 2:34 PM

Irish Economy 2014: Reliable sectoral jobs data missing for first time in 60 years
By Michael Hennigan, Finfacts founder and editor
Apr 11, 2014 - 8:46 AM

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Irish Economy 2014: The Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) says in its quarterly economic commentary published today that reliable sectoral data on Irish jobs is not available for the first time in 60 years.

Following the issue of the Quarterly National Household Survey (QNHS) for Q4 2013 by the Central Statistics Office, which suggested that 61,000 jobs had been added in 2013 with about half in farming while self-employment was back to 2007, we questioned the reliability of the data.

There was no huge jump in farming jobs in grassroots Ireland while the data also added to a misleading picture as the new farmers were treated as being in full-time jobs.

Finfacts: Irish Economy 2014: Did Ireland add 61,000 jobs in 2013?

It was also suspect that suddenly job creation would spurt to 5,000 per month from zero in 2012.

The CSO had adjusted the figures for undercounting migrant workers that had been picked up in the Census 2011 results.

The ESRI economists lead by Prof John FitzGerald say: "while we have reliable information on the trend in total employment, we do not have good information at this point on the trend in employment in individual sectors. This is the first time in sixty years that reliable sectoral employment figures are not available and, unfortunately, this is happening just when we are experiencing major problems with a range of other data. This makes it particularly urgent that the CSO produces consistent sectoral employment data for the last decade, taking account of the rebasing that it has recently undertaken."

So the overall total of 61,000 is accepted by the ESRI - - the QNHS has a margin of error of about 9,000 - - however, it can be possible that the total employment figures are correct but the jobs added in 2013 were only 30,000 with say 31,000 undercounted in 2012.

This would impact the forecasts of annual job creation from this year.

The self-employment total gives rise to the question whether people just cannot get a real jobs and are trying to raise some income as self employed.

The economists say: "in developing our forecast for the Irish economy in 2014 and 2015 we have adopted a top down approach and concentrated on the prospects for GNP. Instead of using the latest data on trade, industrial output etc. to build up a picture of GNP, we have relied on the current account of the balance of payments, the employment data, and indicators of what is happening to domestic demand as a basis for our forecast. We have then tried to 'allocate' the aggregate level of economic activity across different sectors, using the published data and the CSO’s guidance on exceptional items."

 Prof John FitzGerald says in a separate note:

What the experience of the last two years shows is that the standard EU harmonised national accounts are not a satisfactory framework for understanding what is happening in the Irish economy. Instead we have to rely on extensive commentary by the CSO on the figures that are published. Without this assistance it would not be easy to detect the very big effects on the published figures of issues such as the 'patent cliff,' redomiciled PLCs, and changes in ICT sector accounting. These problems with the standard national accounts presentation arise from the exceptional openness of the Irish economy and the related globalisation of the tradable sector of the EU economy. To better understand what is happening in Ireland today significant additional data are needed, supplementary to the national accounts, which would show the contribution of each sector of the economy to GNP. The November 2012 release by the CSO, showing the data on GVA (gross value added) broken down my multi-national firms and the rest of the economy, would provide a good conceptual framework for these additional data."

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