CSO figures highlight lean 2010 as jobs and earnings hit hard


THE YEAR 2010 will be remembered as a time when earnings fell, unemployment grew and more and more people opted to holiday at home, or not at all.

For those who like to have all the national statistics easy to hand in one single volume, the Central Statistics Office’s Statistical Yearbook of Ireland 2010 was published yesterday.

It charts the sometimes record trends in areas of Irish life, ranging from the labour market to criminal activity to the most popular names for newborn babies. It shows that, from a statistical point of view, we had a year to forget.

The data notes that general government debt more than doubled between 2009 and 2010 from €22.7 billion to €49.6 billion as the cost of addressing the domestic banking crisis spiralled.

The CSO states that general government debt as a percentage of gross domestic product fell from 94.2 per cent in 1990 to a low of 24.7 per cent in 2006, before rising rapidly again to 94.9 per cent at the end of last year.

The number with jobs fell from 1.939 million in 2009 to 1.859 million last year as a 30 per cent reduction in the level of production in the construction sector hit home.

There was an 80.9 per cent fall in the number of applications for planning permission for houses granted between 2001 to 2010. New apartments for which planning permission was granted fell by 61.3 per cent in the same period.

There was a 98.7 per cent increase in expenditure on social welfare payments between 2003 and last year, with the welfare budget accounting for 16.7 per cent of gross national product, up from 9 per cent in 2003.

The data shows that average net disposable household income fell by 6.3 per cent. It also records a disparity of almost €14,000 in the average earnings of men, €47, 178, and women, €33,932.

Deaths last year fell by some 5 per cent to 27,122 and births fell slightly – with a total of 73,724, down 554 on 2009. Jack and Sophie were the most popular names for newborn boys and girls for the second year in a row.

Overseas visits to the State fell by 12.9 per cent to just over six million last year and Irish residents made 6.5 million overseas trips, about 7 per cent fewer than in 2009 – both declines influenced by the Icelandic ash cloud grounding many flights in April and May.

In spite of our economic difficulties, theft and related offences recorded fell from 77,031 in 2009 to 76,852 last year. However, a reduction of 200 in the number of gardaí on the beat, to 14,377, may have affected the figures.

There are some positives included, though. The number of new cars licensed increased by 56 per cent on 2009 and the numbers killed on the roads fell.

There was good news for consumers as retail sales increased in number and decreased in value, while GNP grew by 0.3 per cent.