Cliff Taylor: Five key trends in latest jobs figures

Unemployment on a downward trajectory for over three years but financial sector one of losers

Pharmaceutical  manufacturing. The latest quarterly employment figures, referring to the final three months of 2015, showed an annual 44,000 rise in job numbers, bringing the numbers at work to 1.983 million.

Pharmaceutical manufacturing. The latest quarterly employment figures, referring to the final three months of 2015, showed an annual 44,000 rise in job numbers, bringing the numbers at work to 1.983 million.

 

The latest quarterly employment figures, referring to the final three months of 2015, showed an annual 44,000 rise in job numbers, bringing the numbers at work to 1.983 million. This is the same number of people as were at work in the third quarter, though after adjusting for normal seasonal factors the CSO estimates that the underlying trend is still upwards.

The unemployment rate fell to 9.1 per cent in the last quarter of 2015 and the CSO estimates that it has subsequently fallen below 9 per cent. Here are 5 key trends from the figures.

1. Job numbers are still rising, but at a slower rate than they have been. The annual rise in employment is strong and the bulk of the increase was in full-time employment.

However the quarterly rate of increase slowed towards the end of last year. The CSO estimates that employment in the fourth quarter of 2015 was 4,700, or 0.2 per cent, up on the previous quarter, after adjusting for normal seasonal highs and lows. This follows a 9,600 increase in quarter three, itself a decline from the 14,000 – 16,000 increases in the previous three quarter. The trend in job announcements so far this year has been strong, so it will be interesting to see where this trend goes.

2. There is a widespread rise in jobs across the economy. Numbers at work rose in 12 of the 14 economic sectors over the past year. Construction is back, up 8,8 per cent with a rise of 9,900 in annual job numbers. The financial sector was one of the few losers.

3. Unemployment is now on a firm downward trend – it has fallen consistently now for three and a half years. The unemployment rate is now in line with the EU average . The long-term unemployment rate fell from 5.8 per cent to 4.7 per cent. However youth employment – for those aged between 15 and 24 years old - remains high at 18.9 per cent, or not far off one in five.

4. Public sector employment has started to rise again after a period in decline. Total numbers including state companies fell from 382,000 at the end of 2012 to 374,000 at the end of 2014 and have since risen to 376,000.

5. A lot done, more to do, in terms of longer-term trends. The economy has gained some 160,000 jobs since the trough in early 2012.

The total remains about 170,000 below the absolute peak reached at the end of 2007.

You could argue about what is a reasonable level to aim for , but certainly with an unemployment rate at 9 per cent and the potential for immigrants to return there is still spare capacity, even if skills shortages in some sectors and housing remain crunch issues.

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