Number of people in employment reaches record high

But the rate of labour market growth is starting to slow, CSO figures suggest

The volume of people employed in the construction sector grew 7.9 per cent in the quarter. Photograph: iStock

The volume of people employed in the construction sector grew 7.9 per cent in the quarter. Photograph: iStock

 

The number of people in employment reached a record high at the end of last year although the rate of growth is beginning to slow, figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, employment increased by 0.4 per cent, or 8,300 jobs, in the fourth quarter of 2018 compared to the third quarter.

The figures show the volume of jobs added are beginning to slow. In the third quarter there was a seasonally adjusted increase of 9,500 jobs (a 0.5 rise on the previous quarter), a rise of 14,700 in the second quarter (a rise of 0.7 per cent) and an increase of 17,400 in the first quarter (a rise of 0.8 per cent).

In 2018 overall, some 50,500 jobs were added, with a 2.7 per cent increase in full time employment and a 0.5 per cent increase in part-time employment.

In total, more than 2.28 million people are employed in the Irish economy.

Long-term unemployment fell from 2.5 per cent of the labour force to 2.1 per cent and accounted for 38.9 per cent of total unemployment at the end of the year.

“The rise in employment appears far from over,” said Cantor Fitzgerald economist Alan McQuaid. “The latest labour force survey figures showed that the participation rate stood at 62.2 per cent in the final quarter of 2018, compared with a pre-recession peak of 66.7 per cent. Greater participation should slow down the fall in the jobless rate.”

The administration and support services sector and the construction sector were the two that witnessed the largest rates of increase at 12.6 per cent and 7.9 per cent respectively.

Men remained the largest unemployed gender at 69,400 but that number was down almost 17 per cent in the year while female unemployment dipped 2 per cent to 59,400.

The CSO also revised the unemployment rate which it had thought to be as low as 5.3 per cent of the work force to 5.7 per cent.

In its labour force survey, the CSO noted that unadjusted unemployment in the EU-28 was 6.6 per cent in the third quarter compared to the 6 per cent rate in Ireland.

The number of people not in the labour force rose 1.6 per cent, or by 23,600 people, in the fourth quarter compared to a year previous to total 1.47 million.

Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe, said that there’s no room for complacency and the State’s labour market policies will increasingly focus on participation, “boosting productivity and safeguarding the competitiveness gains we have made in recent years”.

“Increasingly our focus should not only be on job creation but also on the sustainability, quality and productivity of jobs in the future,” he added.