Jobs growth gives public finances major boost
Joblessness dips below 8% as 47,000 net new jobs were created over the past year
Positive trend: All told, employment grew in 12 of the 14 economic sectors measured by the CSO. The increase in the information technology sector was 4.2 per cent, while the administrative sector employment rose 9.8 per cent. Photograph: Getty
Steady jobs growth in the first three months of 2016 continued despite ructions on global markets and an inconclusive general election. The unemployment rate dropped under 8 per cent in April, one year after it dipped below 10 per cent for the first time since the economic crash.
The advance carries the prospect of further improvements in the public finances, a boon to the new Government as it grapples with severe housing constraints and perennial difficulties in the health service.
The pace of job creation slowed to 0.3 per cent in the final quarter of 2015, but CSO figures reflect a 0.8 per cent rise early this year.
“The strong quarterly performance resulted in a slight acceleration in the annual rate of jobs growth, to 2.4 per cent from 2.3 per cent in [the fourth quarter],” said Ulster Bank chief economist Simon Barry.
While “not quite matching the truly exceptional rates of around 3 per cent seen in the middle of last year,” he said, “[it is] still a vigorous pace of jobs growth nonetheless”.
Barry said this growth rate “translates into 47,000 net new jobs having been created over the past year, and takes the cumulative recovery in employment to 159,200 – 8.7 per cent – from the cycle low point reached in [the third quarter of] 2012”.
Several trends are evident, among them the rise in construction and female employment, and Dublin’s dominance in job creation.
While the rate of youth unemployment remains high, the most recent drop in joblessness among 15-24 year olds was faster than the overall rate of decline.
Construction employment was worst hit in the crash and its aftermath, but the creation of some 9,500 construction jobs in 12 months points to a big 7.8 per cent rise as activity intensifies.
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The growth of service industries has an impact on demand for office accommodation in Dublin, said John McCartney at estate agents Savills.
“Eighteen months ago there were concerns that we weren’t building enough new office blocks to meet this demand,” he said. “But, in the meantime, development activity has begun to respond.
“Currently there are around 40 office projects on-site and under construction in Dublin. These alone could supply enough space for around 25,000 workers.”