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Unemployment rate down to 4.8 per cent at end of January


RecruitAuto.ie welcomes the news that the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell from five per cent in the third quarter of 2019 to 4.7 per cent in the fourth quarter. And the number of employed people rose by 3.5 per cent last year according to the latest figures in the Labour Force Survey from the Central Statistics Office.

The Labour Force Survey is the official source of data for employment and unemployment in Ireland. It states that a total of 2,361,200 people were in employment at the end of last year, up 79,900 on the previous year.

Unemployment fell by 14.2 per cent or 18,300 to 110,600 over the same period. This is the 30th. quarter in a row where joblessness has declined on an annual basis.

The total number of people in the labour force in the fourth quarter of last year increased by 2.6 per cent to 2,471,700 from the fourth quarter of 2018. That is an all-time high. Total employment in 2019 rose by 65,000, a 2.9 per cent increase on 2018.

Employment growth was also recorded in all of the country’s eight regions and it is very encouraging that the employment gains came despite a challenging year due to Brexit uncertainty and a slowdown in international markets.

In the private sector, 1,506,100 are employed, up from 1,348,200 at the end of 2016. RecruitAuto.ie welcomes this increase of 157,900 private sector jobs created in just over 3 years.

Economists at the respected Nevin Economic Research Institute (NERI) say that thirty-eight per cent of employment growth over the year was part-time employment (30,400), compared to a national part-time rate of just 20.9 per cent. Related is the number of underemployed in the Irish economy, barely changed over the year of strong employment growth (108,500 to 108,400) in quarter 4 2019. This is a particularly precarious form of employment, associated with high levels of in-work poverty and financial insecurity.

Growth in the number of self-employed with no employees also took up a disproportionate share (10.3 per cent) of employment growth compared to a share of 4.1 per cent of overall employment.

NERI economist Paul Goldrick-Kelly points to the absence of international comparisons of relative labour market performance. “Falling unemployment should be welcomed but that rate doesn’t represent the be all and end all of labour market performance. We rarely hear about our relatively low levels of aggregate employment – in terms of the percentage of the working population employed, we are distinctly average by European standards.”

The CSO figures show that there are now circa 351,300 public service workers in the Republic. That is up from 333,300 at the end of 2016. When semi-state bodies are included, the State workforce rises to 407,800.

A headline figure within that is the 137,100 working in health, which is the largest sector. Another major figure in the public service is about 112,000 employed in education. There are 43,500 in the civil service, with 35,100 in regional bodies, 14,500 in An Garda Síochána, and 9,000 in the Defence Forces.