Youth unemployment rises as headline rate steady

Seasonally adjusted jobless rate down close to one percentage point from September 2021

The unemployment rate was steady in September from August, remaining at a two-decade low of 4.3 per cent despite a marginal increase in the percentage of unemployed young workers for the second month in a row.

Having risen from 11.1 per cent in July to a revised rate of 11.8 per cent in August, the number of people aged between 15 and 24 out of work stood at 12.4 per cent in September, new figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was unchanged in September for all males at 4.2 per cent and down for all women to 4.3 per cent from 4.5 per cent in August.

At 4.3 per cent the headline rate was down from 5.2 per cent from September 2021 when some Covid-19 restrictions remained in place. The unwinding of Covid restrictions over the past 12 months has led to a rapid improvement in unemployment from Covid-adjusted highs of 30 per cent and above in 2020.

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Commenting on the figures, John Mullane, statistician in the labour market analysis section of the CSO, said: “The seasonally adjusted number of persons unemployed was 116,900 in September 2022, compared with 117,700 in August 2022. There was a decrease of 18,500 in the seasonally adjusted number of persons unemployed in September 2022 when compared with a year earlier.

“The seasonally adjusted number of males unemployed was 61,300 in September 2022, compared with 59,800 in August 2022. For September 2022 the seasonally adjusted number of females unemployed was 55,600, compared with 58,000 in August 2022.”

In its quarterly bulletin published on Wednesday, the Central Bank said the strong recovery in Ireland’s labour market this year is likely to lead to wage growth in the coming years.

The bank sees employment growing by 1.1 per cent next year and 1.7 per cent in 2024. It forecasts that growth in compensation per employee will rise from 3.8 per cent this year to 5.8 per cent in 2023, before easing back to 4.9 per cent the following year.

Speaking to reporters, Robert Kelly, the Central Bank’s acting director of economics and statistics, noted that “the imbalance ... between the demand for labour and the supply is quite acute at the moment”. He said that while there were 40 people seeking work for every vacancy in the market in 2011, the ratio had fallen to six in 2019, before Covid-19 struck, and currently stands at three.

“Right now from talking to firms and building soft information it seems the direction of travel is they will try to retain the employees they have given the shortage of labour out there at the moment,” he said, when asked whether companies were likely to cut costs in the face of inflation by shedding jobs.

Ian Curran

Ian Curran is a Business reporter with The Irish Times