Number of retired people in State rises by almost half in a decade, census figures show

Around 300,000 more people were working in Ireland in April 2022 than in 2016, according to figures released by CSO

The number of people describing themselves as retired jumped by almost a half in just a decade according to the latest census figures released by the Central Statistics Office on Tuesday.

The latest batch of census data reenforces the impression of a generally healthy jobs market with total numbers of workers up significantly, a substantial reduction in unemployment across the labour force and particular progress with regard to joblessness among young men.

The signs of ageing among the population are there too, however, with the previously projected long-term growth in the number of retired people showing strong signs of gaining momentum.

In total, 657,790 described themselves as retired last April, an increase of 21 per cent in just six years and 44 per cent in a decade.


For the first time, more women than men described themselves as being retired with an increase of 27 per cent bringing that number to some 342,000 compared to 316,000 for males.

The number of working men and women is fairly equal overall at 1.2 million and 1.1 million respectively. The percentage of retirees nationally is put at 16 per cent. Rosslare has the highest proportion among its population at 28 per cent.

Over the long term, the growth in the number of female workers has been substantial, with the figures suggesting a move away from roles in the home.

In 1986, just over half, 51 per cent, of all women recorded their principal economic status as “looking after the home/family”. Thirty-six years, on the corresponding figure was just 12 per cent. Of those who do still say that is their principal economic status, 90 per cent continue to be female, however.

The scale of the societal change is evidenced under a range of other statistical headings published on Tuesday.

The numbers of men and women in education are broadly the same at 11 per cent as are the figures for those unavailable to work due to ill health or disability, at around 5 per cent.

The rise overall in this latter figure will be of concern to policy makers with the combined total having jumped 20 per cent to 189,308.

Around a quarter of women work part-time, however, compared to just 7 per cent of men and sectors in which women tend to be particularly well represented are among those to have experienced some of the most dramatic growths in numbers.

The number of hospital and healthcare workers is up[ substantially while Other Human Health Activities, which includes roles such as physio and occupational therapy is the heading under which most jobs – some 37,000 - have been added since 2016 and the number of nursing auxiliaries and assistants, linked again perhaps to that growing number of older people, roughly doubled in the period to 36,000.

There was growth of varying degrees since 2011 in eight of the 10 classifications of work with farming and retail the other two.

The number of people employed in computer programming, consultancy and information technology soared in the decade from 38,114 to 90,028.

Overall, the picture is of a growing labour market in which the number of self-declared unemployed, which includes the number seeking a first job, was down in a decade from 19 per cent to 8 per cent with an even more substantial drop in the rate of youth unemployment, from 45 per cent to 17 per cent in case of men aged 15 to 24 years-olds.

It is also a changing labour market, with a 173 per cent increase in the number of people saying they work mainly from home.

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone is Work Correspondent at The Irish Times