The workers just keep on coming

Employment growth in the Irish economy exceeded 4% for the seventh quarter in a row in the last three months of 2006 with Central Statistic Office (CSO) figures showing annual employment growth was 4.3%, up from 4.2% in the previous quarter.

There was an increase of 85,000 in the numbers of persons employed in the Irish Republic in 2006, taking the total figure to 2.06 million. The overall unemployment rate is now down to 4.2%, a five-year low, with over half the new workers in 2006 coming from outside of the State and UK worker numbers falling year-on-year. Interestingly, employment growth was strongest in the Border, Midland and Western (BMW) Region, up 4.9% or 24,900 extra jobs.
Health and construction are the main areas of employment growth with the building industry increasing its workforce by 28,400 and Health by 18,700. The two sectors accounted for just over 55% of the annual increase in the numbers employed.

Over one-third of labour force growth is attributable to migrants from the new EU Member States while there are were 93,600 people from the EU Accession States in the Irish workforce (classified as persons over 15) in the last quarter of 2006, up from 72,700 in the same period last year.

There are 40,800 UK workers, down from 43,700. The age of the UK population in Ireland appears to have a lot more pensioners with 25,500 not economically active as opposed to just 9,500 among the new EU members.

The CSO Quarterly National Household Survey estimates a total of 301,100 foreign nationals aged 15 years and over in the State in the fourth quarter of 2006. Of these, 215,500 were in employment while a further 14,300 were unemployed according to the ILO criteria.

EU Accession state nationals were the fastest growing category (+30,400) accounting for over one-third (+28,300) of the overall growth in the labour force.

Interestlingly, the number of workers from outside the EU also increased significantly from 51,500 to 69,300 over the year.

Main results Q4 2006 Persons Change in year
Employment 2,066,100 +85,500
Unemployment 88,700 -2,600
Labour Force 2,154,800 +82,900

Other interesting statistics:

– Construction sector accounts for almost 60% of male employment growth
– Fall in the number of women unemployed
– Decrease in the number of students by 8,600 to 354,000
– 76.1% of the 20-24 year age group are working
– 52% of married women now work

Breakdown of non-Irish nationals in Irish workforce final quarter 2006:

UK: 17.8%
New EU: 40.7%
EU 15 exc. Ireland and UK: 11.3%
Other: 30.2%

Non-Irish nationals account for just over 10% of the Irish workforce, making up just over 28% of all hotel and restaurant workers, 13.4% of construction staff and 12% of the production industry sectors.

The employment rate for all persons aged 15-64 is now 68.7%, up 0.9% on a year ago.