Unemployment rate falls below 5% for first time since crash

Ongoing strength of labour market reflected in latest jobless numbers

The State’s unemployment rate has fallen below 5 per cent for the first time since the crash, reflecting the ongoing strength of the labour market.

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) said the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for October was 4.8 per cent, down from 5.7 per cent a year ago.

The last time the jobless rate was below 5 per cent was in July 2007. The current rate is also over 11 percentage points lower than the 16 per cent rate recorded at the peak of the financial crisis in 2012.

The seasonally adjusted number of unemployed people was 117,300 in October, representing an annual decrease of 19,400, the CSO said.


Participation rates, particularly for women, however, remain lower than at the peak of the boom or by international standards. The State’s youth unemployment rate also remains elevated at 12.3 per cent in October, up marginally on the previous month.

"October's unemployment figures show a labour market continuing to grow, despite gathering global economic headwinds," said Andrew Webb, chief economist of Grant Thornton Ireland.

“Respite from Brexit for now, and the increased potential for some form of Brexit withdrawal deal, suggests that the major economic risk, a messy Brexit, has abated, at least until the far side of Christmas,” he said.

“This is good news for the labour market, which is being watched carefully for signs of economic downturn,” he said.

Pawel Adrjan, economist at global job site Indeed, said: "With the risk of a hard Brexit appearing to dissipate, companies who had put hiring decisions on hold may look to ramp up activity in the new year.

"Given that Ireland is close to levels of full employment, employers will find it hard to attract talent. This could continue to put pressure on wage growth, which the Central Bank forecast will be at least 3.5 per cent next year," he said.

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy is Economics Correspondent of The Irish Times