Big rise in numbers at work – and many are cycling there

Commuters still heavily reliant on private cars to get to work and school

Cycling to work had the largest percentage increase of any form of transport. Photograph: Alan Betson

Cycling to work had the largest percentage increase of any form of transport. Photograph: Alan Betson


The number of people at work increased by almost 200,000 between 2011 and 2016, according to data released by the Central Statistics Office on Thursday.

The new figures are included in a summary publication from the 2016 census covering the areas of employment, education and skills, health, disability and carers, as well as commuting patterns.

There were 2,006,641 people at work when the census was carried out in April 2016. The number of females at work grew by 9 per cent since 2011 to 929,967, while there were 1,076,674 males at work, an increase of 12.8 per cent.

There were 293,830 non-Irish nationals at work, an increase of 9.6 per cent over the five-year period, while the number of retired people increased significantly, by 19.2 per cent to 545,407.

The number of women looking after the home or family as their principal status has been falling since 1981, with a decline of 11.5 per cent since 2011. The number of men with this status rose by 15 per cent, although at 20,747 they represented only 6.8 per cent of all homemakers.

As measured by the census, the rate of unemployment in April 2016 was 12.9 per cent. Waterford was the city with the highest unemployment rate at 18.8 per cent, while Longford had the highest rate among large towns, at 30.6 per cent.

There were 79 unemployment black spots – defined as electoral districts with an unemployment rate of 27 per cent or higher. Eight of the top 10 black spots were in Limerick.

Dominant services

Almost four-fifths of those at work were employed in the services sector, with more than 90 per cent of women working in services. Health and social work saw the biggest increase in numbers employed, with 25,647 more people.

There were also marked increases in computer and related activities (up by 21,877, or more than 50 per cent) and construction (up 15,092). Some 5,991 fewer people worked in public administration and defence, while 5,361 fewer people worked in banking.

There were 427,128 students aged 15 and over in April 2016, an increase of 4.5 per cent on the 2011 figure. Women continue to have a higher participation in education among those aged 19-22, at 59.5 per cent, while the rate for men was 52.8 per cent.

Almost 1.9 million people commuted to work, with 73.3 per cent of all workers commuting in a private vehicle, slightly down from 75.5 per in 2011. Some 9.3 per cent of commuters – 174,569 people – used public transport.

Cycling to work had the largest percentage increase of any form of transport, rising from 39,803 in 2011 to 56,837 in 2016, an increase of 42.8 per cent over five years.

School data

There were an additional 45,414 primary school students in 2016 compared with five years previously. While 10,769 of these additional students walked or cycled to school, bringing the total walking or cycling to school to 135,544, the car remains the dominant means of transport, with 327,039 children (six out of 10) being driven to school. The numbers taking public transport have fallen from 60,954 in 2011 to 56,846 in 2016. The number of secondary school students increased by 27,767 but the numbers walking or cycling increased by just 855 (from 80,538 to 81,393); those using public transport increased by 3,429 to 105,222, representing 30 per cent of journeys, while again, the car remained the main means of transport among this group with 151,794 users, of whom 5,039 drove to school themselves.

Almost six in every 10 people (59.4%) stated that they had very good health in April 2016. The numbers reporting themselves as having bad health increased from 57,243 to 62,697 while the numbers with very bad health also increased, from 12,418 to 13,738. The number of people with a disability increased by 47,796 to 643,131, representing 13.5 per cent of the population.

Some 195,263 people provided unpaid care in 2016, an increase of 8,151 on 2011.

The time spent caring also increased, with 83,754 people providing care for up to two hours per day (up from 80,891), while 41,185 people provided care for more than six hours a day (up from 39,982).