One-in-five now employed by foreign multinationals

Latest IDA numbers show employment in multinational sector rose to 187,000 in 2015

One-in-five private sector workers in Ireland are now employed directly or indirectly by foreign multinationals, according to IDA Ireland.

The agency’s end-of-year report reveals IDA-backed firms created just under 19,000 jobs in 2015, bringing total employment in the sector to 187,000, the highest level in the IDA’s 67-year history.

Some 53 per cent of the new jobs were generated outside of Dublin, compared to 49 per cent in 2014, with technology, business services and life sciences highlighted as the best-performing sectors.

“While there is a global trend towards foreign direct investment (FDI) favouring large urban centres, IDA statistics continue to show the strength and resilience of FDI in regional locations,” the agency said.


Employment outside the capital currently accounts for 59 per cent of the total footprint.

The IDA estimates that for every 10 jobs created by FDI, a further seven indirect jobs are generated in the wider economy. This means about 318,000 jobs or one in five private sector jobs are supported by Irish-based multinationals.

The number of high-profile investments secured by the IDA during the year rose to 213 from 197 in the previous year, with “new name” investments rising to 94.

IDA chief executive Martin Shanahan acknowledged the strong performance was achieved against a backdrop of "favourable trading conditions", which may change.

However, he noted the outlook for 2016 remained positive, with the pipeline for the first quarter “looking relatively strong”.

“Undoubtedly, the transparency, competitiveness and stability of Ireland’s tax regime has stood us in good stead against what has been global uncertainty,” he said.

Investment in infrastructure, greater commercial property space, particularly in Dublin, and more competitive personal income tax rates would also be key to securing future investment.

The IDA’s latest five-year strategy targets the creation of 80,000 new jobs by 2020.

Among the notable investment coups announced last year was Apple's decision to invest €850 million in a new data centre in Athenry, Co Galway.

The centre, which will help run its online services like iTunes and Maps, alongside a similar investment in Denmark, represents Apple’s biggest-ever investment in Europe.

Social media giant Facebook also announced plans for a new €200 million data centre in Clonee, Co Meath.

More than 330 new jobs are also being created in Co Donegal by finance firm Pramerica, which is building a new, high-tech campus in Letterkenny.

Software firm Slack was also one of a host of US companies to announce plans for a European base in Dublin’s tech hub.

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton said multinational companies had played a "massive role" in the State's economic recovery.

“This consistent record of job-creation does not happen by accident, and is only made possible by careful implementation of good pro-jobs policies,” he said.

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy is Economics Correspondent of The Irish Times