Job numbers hit a record 2.36m as hi-techs lead the way

Central Statistics Office figures show unemployment heading for boom-era lows

Jobless numbers fell 18,300 or 14 per cent to 110,600 people, the survey calculates. Photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

Jobless numbers fell 18,300 or 14 per cent to 110,600 people, the survey calculates. Photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

 

A record 2.36 million people had jobs in the Republic during the last three months of 2019, new figures show.

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) said on Tuesday that the numbers at work grew here during the final quarter of last year, while unemployment continued falling.

Its Labour Force Survey for the period shows that employment rose 3.5 per cent or 80,000 to 2.36 million, which senior statistician Dr Edel Flannery confirmed was the highest on record.

Jobless numbers fell 18,300 or 14 per cent to 110,600 people, the survey calculates, bringing it down to levels unemployment was at before the financial crisis a decade ago.

Statistician Jim Dalton noted that the three-month period continued the recent pattern of strong employment growth, with the numbers working in 13 of 14 sectors increasing.

Information and communication, which includes the multinational-dominated hi-tech industry, showed the highest growth.

That industry employed 127,600 people in the last quarter of 2019, 12,300 more than during the same period in 2018.

Banking, insurance and property dealing was next best, adding 9,000 workers to bring its total to 15,100.

Builders employed 147,100 people in the closing quarter of 2019 after hiring an extra 3,000 people over the previous 12 months.

I am particularly pleased to see a continued decline in the unemployment rate

Mr Dalton said that the number of skilled workers employed in construction rose slightly during the fourth quarter of last year, but actually fell in agriculture and industry.

The Republic’s labour force stood at 2.472 million in the last quarter of 2019, the report shows. The CSO calculates that this is also a record.

Continued strength

Outgoing Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe said that the figures showed the continued strength of the Republic’s economy.

“Employment growth remains broad-based with annual gains recorded in 13 out of 14 economic sectors and all eight regions in Ireland, ” he noted.

“I am particularly pleased to see a continued decline in the unemployment rate which now stands at a level last seen before the economic crash.”

Mr Donohoe argued that the CSO numbers further proved that recent policies had paid dividends for families and employers.

“Ireland has faced and continues to face a highly uncertain macroeconomic situation, with clear risks to our economic growth, not least due to ongoing uncertainty associated with the future trading relationship with the UK,” the Minister warned.

He added that the Republic faced those challenges from a strong position.

Austin Hughes, chief economist of KBC Bank Ireland, said the figures represented the second-fastest quarterly jobs gain since late 2006.

“In circumstances where concerns about Brexit on one side and capacity constraints on the other suggested the risk of a marked slowing in Irish job growth in late 2019, a quarterly increase of 1.3 per cent, which translates to a 5.4 per cent annualised growth, represents a notable positive surprise,” he said.