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News : Irish Economy Last Updated: Jan 6, 2015 - 3:12 AM

Irish Economy: Bruton says 80,000 jobs added since Q4 2011- 36% are farmers
By Michael Hennigan, Finfacts founder and editor
Dec 19, 2014 - 4:38 AM

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Irish Economy: Richard Bruton, enterprise minister, said in a statement Thursday that 80,000 jobs had been added in the economy since the Government's 'Action Plan for Jobs' programme was launched in early February 2012. However, 36% of the total are in the 'Agriculture, forestry and fishing' category and this is the subject of an on-going investigation by the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

Full-time employees account for 30,000 of the claimed 80,000 (79,000 according to official data).

When 'Agriculture etc' numbers were shown to have fallen by 26,700 in 2009, the CSO published a note (see below) and then in 2013, 'Agriculture etc' numbers showed an addition of 26,800.

The jump in the number of farmers in 2013 is also reflected in the rise in the numbers of 'Self employed with no paid employees.'

CSO March 24, 2010: "A fall in employment of 26,700 was recorded for the Agriculture, forestry and fishing sector in the year to the fourth quarter of 2009. Analysis of this has not identified any clear flows which would explain such a level of decrease. The CSO is assessing if this fall is attributable to sampling issues outside normal sampling error which applies to any estimate from a sample survey and suggests caution in interpretation of the trend at this time."

CSO February 27 2014: "After each Census of Population the sample of households for the Quarterly National Household Survey (QNHS) is updated to ensure the sample remains representative. The new sample based on the 2011 Census of Population has been introduced incrementally from Q4 2012 to Q4 2013."

The CSO told Finfacts this month: "We are undertaking work on the data which resulted from the 2009 sample to examine if revisions are required which would, in the main, impact upon the Ag sector. That work is ongoing and as always we will inform users on the outcome."

Looking at the trend since 2000, it appears that numbers were underestimated in 2009, which were then corrected in 2013.

Coillte, the state forestry company, has about 1,000 on its payroll, and Bord Iascaigh Mhara, the fisheries agency said in respect of 2012 that 11,000 persons were employed in the Irish seafood industry, of which:

  • Fishermen 4,984;
  • Fish farmers 1,716;
  • Processing 2,860;
  • Ancillary 1,140.

So most of 'Agriculture etc' employment is in farming (see chart below).

The quarterly QNHS survey has a margin of error of about 9,000 and there is generally confidence in the overall employment total.

However Census 2011 found:

  • The number of migrants in the population had been underestimated by 103,000 and the related impact for total employment in recent years was an upwards adjustment by about 40,000;
  • The lost farmers of 2009 were added back in 2013 - agriculture at 6% has one of the lowest percentage of migrants compared with tourism activities at 33%.

While the estimate of about 40,000 jobs was updated in past data a curious aspect of the spike in total employment by 61,000 in 2013 was that the annual change in 2012 was just 1,000 - in the real world, this surge in jobs was overstated - and then the total employment numbers fell 22,000 in Q1, rose 14,000 in Q2 and 25,000 in Q3 2014.

The rise in the nine months of 2014 has been by 17,000.

Job numbers are of course a key aspect of the Government's election record and in Bruton's case he wants to show that the Action Plan for Jobs (APJ) target of  100,000 jobs added in the economy is achieved by 2016.

Last year the minister even hired the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to produce a special report (cost not disclosed) to review the APJ but it was flawed as some of the data supplied was distorted by massive corporate tax avoidance.

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1) As the APJ quarterly targets are not related to the number of farmers, the number of other jobs added is 50,000 (79,000 less 29,000) not 80,000;

2) If the CSO conclude that the current category breakdown as per the chart below is reliable based on Census 2011 weightings, then the total jobs decline in 2009 may have been less than estimated - many small farmers had worked in construction during the boom and construction employment had a floor of about 100,000 during the bust which was odd given the extent of the collapse.

In 1994, 1995, 1996 and 1997, a period when FDI (foreign direct investment) inflows were strong, resulting in demand for commercial property, while public funded civil engineering projects were relatively stable compared with rising GNP, new house completions rose from 27,000 in 1994 to 39,000 in 1997.

House completions peaked at 93,000 in 2006 and in 2012 and 2013 at 10,500 and 8,500 were at the lowest since the 1960s.

In 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, direct employment in construction was at 91,500, 96,600, 100,800, and 110,400.

In Q3 2014 there were 124,000 part-time workers seeking full-time work and that would have been a factor in construction.

Note that the Government's target is just the headline total of 100,000 - there is no distinction between people struggling to make a living in 1-person operations and full-time employee jobs.

As noted above, 30,000 of the claimed 80,000 jobs are full-time employee positions.

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Irish  Employment by NACE Economic Category

2011Q4 - 2014Q3

2008Q2 2011Q4 2014Q3 Change
All NACE economic sectors
Person aged 15 years and over in Employment (Thousand) 2,147.3 1,847.7 1,926.9 +79
Agriculture, forestry and fishing (A)
Person aged 15 years and over in Employment (Thousand) 116.0 80.3 109.7 +29
Construction (F)
Person aged 15 years and over in Employment (Thousand) 246.1 107.8 112.4 +4
Wholesale and retail trade, repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles (G)
Person aged 15 years and over in Employment (Thousand) 314.8 270.5 275.2 +5
Transportation and storage (H)
Person aged 15 years and over in Employment (Thousand) 94.0 92.6 87.5 -5
Accommodation and food service activities (I)
Person aged 15 years and over in Employment (Thousand) 128.7 119.9 139.8 +20
Information and communication (J)
Person aged 15 years and over in Employment (Thousand) 72.3 77.7 79.3 +2
Professional, scientific and technical activities (M)
Person aged 15 years and over in Employment (Thousand) 118.3 96.2 116.9 +21
Administrative and support service activities (N)
Person aged 15 years and over in Employment (Thousand) 77.8 65.3 65.2 -
Public administration and defence, compulsory social security (O)
Person aged 15 years and over in Employment (Thousand) 103.5 102.3 98.1 -3
Education (P)
Person aged 15 years and over in Employment (Thousand) 147.4 144.5 144.1
Human health and social work activities (Q)
Person aged 15 years and over in Employment (Thousand) 222.8 242.8 249.5 +6
Industry (B to E)
Person aged 15 years and over in Employment (Thousand) 291.4 244.5 238.8 -6
Industry and Construction (B to F)
Person aged 15 years and over in Employment (Thousand) 537.5 352.4 351.2 -
Services (G to U)
Person aged 15 years and over in Employment (Thousand) 1,486.3 1,412.3 1,460.2 +38
Financial, insurance and real estate activities (K,L)
Person aged 15 years and over in Employment (Thousand) 107.1 104.1 103.1 -1
Other NACE activities (R to U)
Person aged 15 years and over in Employment (Thousand) 99.6 96.3 101.6 +5
Not stated
Person aged 15 years and over in Employment (Thousand) 7.4 2.7 5.8 +5
Source: CSO via Finfacts.ie

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