CSO report shows mixed progress as male long-term jobless rate is highest in EU

Ireland fifth most expensive member state despite drop in inflation

Dole queue on Bishop Street, Dublin. The long-term unemployment rate of 12.3 per cent among men here was the highest such rate in the EU. The long-term unemployment rate among women here was 5.5 per cent. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Dole queue on Bishop Street, Dublin. The long-term unemployment rate of 12.3 per cent among men here was the highest such rate in the EU. The long-term unemployment rate among women here was 5.5 per cent. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Wed, Jan 22, 2014, 01:00

The State had the highest rate of long-term unemployment among men in Europe in 2012, despite emigration, an official report on our faltering economic progress shows.

The Central Statistics Office document, Measuring Ireland’s Progress 2012, brings together data from across the European Union under such headings as the economy, employment and education.

High inflation
It points to the stark collapse in the State’s economic fortunes since 2008, but also to some signs of stabilisation. This was the only country in the EU to experience a decrease in inflation between 2008 and 2012 but prices remain high by European standards, it notes, in one of its headline findings.

This was the fifth most expensive EU state in 2012, after Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Luxembourg with prices 15 per cent over the EU average. However, this represents a considerable improvement on 2008 when prices were the second- highest in the EU, at 30 per cent above the average.

The gloomiest figures relate to unemployment with the State fifth behind Spain, Greece, Portugal and Latvia for the overall jobless rate. This masks a gender difference, with male unemployment here at 18 per cent the third-highest, and well above the EU average of 10.5 per cent. The female unemployment rate of 11 per cent was almost exactly at the EU average. The long-term unemployment rate of 12.3 per cent among men here was the highest such rate in the EU. The long-term unemployment rate among women here was 5.5 per cent.

Slight recovery
Since the figures were compiled, there has been a slight recovery in the jobs market in the State, with 14.8 per cent of men in the labour force out of work in the third quarter of last year, the latest period for which the CSO has data.

Long-term unemployment among men has also come down significantly – to 9.6 per cent – but this is still more than double the EU average for 2012 of 4.6 per cent.

Another eye-catching finding was the large class sizes in the State at primary level, with 24.1 children per class here, second behind the UK at 24.8 but ahead of Germany (21.2), Denmark (20.4) and Poland (18.3).

On the plus side, the early school-leaver rate is slightly better than the EU average, while the proportion of the population aged 25-34 that has completed third-level education is the fourth highest in the EU.

The State had the highest fertility rate and the second-lowest divorce rate in the EU in 2012. Its population is increasing at the third-highest rate and it has the highest proportion of young people and the second-lowest proportion of old people in the EU.

Life expectancy at birth in 2011, as calculated by Eurostat, was 83 years for females, which is 0.4 years above the EU average, and 78.6 years for males, nearly two years above the EU average. A 65-year-old man here can now expect to live another 16.6 years, while a 65-year-old woman can expect to live 19.8 years.

As regards macroeconomic indicators, GDP rose 0.2 per cent in 2012. The public balance deficit was the third-highest of any EU state at just over 8 per cent of GDP, while government debt increased to 117.4 per cent of GDP, having been 44.2 per cent in 2008.

Nonetheless, in 2012 the State had the third-highest GDP per capita at 29 per cent above the EU average.

The productivity of the workforce here in 2012, measured by GDP per person employed, was 43 per cent higher than the EU average. As employees work longer hours, the productivity per hour worked was relatively lower, but still 29 per cent above the EU average.


Consistent poverty
In the area of social cohesion, the proportion of the population at risk of poverty was 15 per cent in 2011, which was below the EU rate of 17 per cent.

In the same year, 6.9 per cent of the population was in consistent poverty, up from 6.3 per cent in 2010.

In education, real expenditure per student here increased over the period 2003-2012 by 16 per cent at primary level and 12 per cent at second level. However there was a decrease of a fifth (20.1 per cent) at third level over the same time period.

Spending on health increased, with an average of €3,044 in public funds spent per person in 2011 (at constant 2012 prices). This is an increase of 15 per cent on 2002.