Unemployment rate down to its lowest level since 2008

CSO quarterly data shows rate dropped to 9.1% in July-September

An update of monthly Central Statistics Office figures shows the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in October was 8.9 per cent, down from the previously reported 9.3 per cent. (Photograph: Frank Miller /	THE IRISH TIMES)

An update of monthly Central Statistics Office figures shows the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in October was 8.9 per cent, down from the previously reported 9.3 per cent. (Photograph: Frank Miller / THE IRISH TIMES)

 

The construction and industrial sectors delivered the most new jobs as a 59,400 increase in the number of full-time posts helped bring the unemployment rate down to its lowest level since 2008.

Quarterly data published by the Central Statistics Office showed Ireland’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped to 9.1 per cent in July-September this year from 9.6 per cent in April-June. The rate in the third quarter of 2014 was 11.1 per cent.

In addition, a revision of monthly CSO data brought the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in October down to 8.9 per cent from the previously estimated 9.3 per cent. September’s unemployment rate was similarly revised from 9.4 per cent to 9 per cent.

“Significant milestones are hit, with the unemployment rate dipping below 9 per cent and the numbers of people unemployed going under 200,000 for the first time since 2008,” said Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton.

Caution

Employers urged caution. “There has been a general slowdown in job creation as a result of wage pressures and the increase in the minimum wage is acting as a brake on new employment,” said Mark Fielding, chief executive of the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association.


Employers’ group Ibec said the regional spread of recovery remains a challenge, even though employment grew year-on-year in every region bar the west. “Employment is now growing at 5 per cent annually in Dublin compared to 2 per cent in the rest of the country. This will increase the pressure on housing and infrastructure in the short term and exacerbate regional inequalities over the long-term,” said Ibec economist Gerard Brady.

Employment rose in 12 of the 14 sectors tracked by the CSO and fell in only two, leading analysts to conclude the recovery is broad-based.

The number of people working in construction in the third quarter rose by 15,000 to 127,400 year-on-year. The number working in the industry sector rose by 13,600 to 252,300 year-on-year. Gains in employment were recorded in agriculture, transport, the IT sector, professional and administrative services, as well as in public administration, education and healthcare.

The number employed in the financial, insurance and real-estate sector declined by 3,300 to 99,800 year-on-year. Employment also dropped in the wholesale, retail and motor repair sector.

Jobless rate

The overall number of people working in the 12 months to September rose by 56,000, the ninth consecutive quarterly fall in unemployment, taking the jobless rate to its lowest level for seven years. The seasonally adjusted rate was 8.1 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2008, just before a huge rise in unemployment in 2009.

Noting that full-time job creation was now advancing at the fastest pace since 2006, KBC Bank chief economist Austin Hughes said the data pointed to a stronger picture than suggested by the headline rise in overall employment.

“For the first three quarters of 2015, Irish jobs growth averaged 2.7 per cent, about a percentage point higher than through 2014, while full-time employment is 3.9 per cent higher than in 2014,” he said.

“This means we have to upgrade our forecast of average jobs growth of 2.5 per cent for 2015 to 2.7 per cent. We also think unemployment could drop towards 8.5 per cent by the end of 2015 and could also fall below 8 per cent by the end of next year.”