Services sector now accounts for 75% of employment in Ireland

OECD report reveals shifting shares of employment since crash

The number of people employed in Ireland’s fast-growing services industry is now at its highest level on record, according to the OECD.

The Paris-based think tank’s latest quarterly employment survey shows the services sector here, which covers a range of businesses from banks to hotels, now accounts for 75 per cent of employment in the economy, equating to over 1.5 million jobs.

At the height of the boom in 2008, the sector accounted for 69.4 per cent employment here.

The OECD’s report showed that employment in the services sector has increased in most countries since the crash while employment in the industrial sector, which contains the more traditional manufacturing activities, has declined.

In Ireland, the share of workers employed in industry fell from 25.2 per cent in 2008 to 19.8 per cent in the second quarter of 2017, reflecting, in the main, the crash in construction that occurred as a result of the financial crisis.

While employment in construction is growing again in Ireland, the total number of workers employed in the sector is still only around 150,000, half of what it was during the boom.

The decrease in the share of employment in industry was also pronounced in southern European countries, with declines of 4 percentage points or more recorded in Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal.

The OECD’s report showed the percentage of worker employed in agriculture here has remained largely stable at 5.3 per cent, just 0.1 per cent down on its 2008 level.

The report showed the employment rate - defined as the share of people of working-age in employment - across the euro area rose by 0.3 per cent to 66.2 per cent in the second quarter of this year, with the highest quarterly increase observed in Greece, up 0.8 percentage point to 53.6 per cent. In Ireland, the employment rate increased marginally to 65.9 per cent.

The report showed the percentage of young people (15-24) employed here was just 32.3 per cent, which was slightly a head of the euro area average, but way down on competitor countries like the UK, where it was 51 per cent.

On a gender basis, the OECD numbers showed 71.3 per cent of working age males were employed in Ireland while 60.5 per cent of working age women were employed.

This was broadly in line with the euro area average, which was 71.4 per cent for men and 61.1 per cent for women.

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy is Economics Correspondent of The Irish Times