Employment grows for third successive quarter

Most of 7,700 jobs added to economy in first three months of year part-time rather than full-time

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton: “We inherited an economy which was losing 90,000 jobs a year, but we are now seeing that the plan which we put in place is having an impact.” Photograph: Eric Luke

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton: “We inherited an economy which was losing 90,000 jobs a year, but we are now seeing that the plan which we put in place is having an impact.” Photograph: Eric Luke

Thu, May 30, 2013, 18:35

The numbers at work grew for the third successive quarter in the first three months of the year, according to the Central Statistics Office (CSO). On a seasonally adjusted basis there were 7,700 more jobs in the economy in the January-March period than three months earlier.

Since the post-recession low point in the second quarter of last year, net employment has risen by 24,000. This increase took place despite a decline in public sector employment over the same period of almost 5,000.

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton said: “We inherited an economy which was losing 90,000 jobs a year, but we are now seeing that the plan which we put in place is having an impact, with 25,000 jobs created since we launched and started implementing the Action Plan for Jobs a year ago. That’s more than 2,000 additional jobs per month in the private sector.”

Owing to the growth in jobs and a revision to earlier figures, the unemployment rate is now estimated to have stood at 13.7 per cent of the workforce in April. This is down from the previous estimate of 14.1 per cent and is the lowest rate since 2010. Unemployment has been falling gradually since it peaked at more than 15 per cent in March last year.

Less positively, the Quarterly National Household Survey showed that most of the gains in employment have been in part-time rather than full-time jobs.

Also of concern is the continued disproportionate impact of the jobs crisis on the young. All of the growth in employment has been to the benefit of those 35 years and older.

The numbers of under-35s at work continued to fall in the first quarter of 2013, a trend that has been ongoing since 2007. There were just under 650,000 under-35s in employment in the January-March period, down from a million in 2007.

By contrast, employment among the 35-and-older age group has recovered to the peak recorded before the downturn.

Since the labour market turned around the middle of last year, employment growth by sector has widened. The single biggest employer – the retail and wholesale sector – has added 6,000 jobs, while the second biggest employer – health and social work – generated a net increase of 4,700 jobs over the same nine-month period.

The third-biggest sector by employment is industry, and it too added 4,600 jobs over the same period.

The biggest single source of new jobs has been in the agriculture sector. However, the CSO cautioned about its figures in the sector owing to technical statistical problems. Given that half of the net increase in total employment over the past three quarters has been in this sector, it is possible that the extent of the overall increase has been exaggerated.

Among the sectors experiencing falling employment, construction was worst hit. For the first time on record the numbers at work in the industry fell below the 100,000 mark. After appearing to stabilise in 2012, the sector suffered a 5,000 quarter-on-quarter decline in employment in the first three months of 2013.

Responding to the figures, the Irish National Organisation for the Unemployed said: “The employment challenge facing Ireland remains.” It went on to call for a “a properly resourced integrated service that strives to meet the needs of unemployed people”.