Republic of Ireland news

Republic's employment rate among workers aged 15-64 at record high

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar. Picture by Brian Lawless/PA Wire.
Gráinne Ní Aodha, PA

The Republic's employment rate for workers aged up to 64 has reached a record high, according to the latest figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

The number of people aged 15-64 who were employed in the second quarter of 2022 was 73.5%, up from 68.6% in the same quarter last year.

This is the highest employment rate since this data series began in 1998, the CSO said.

The number of people aged 15-89 in employment increased by 8.7%, or 205,500 people, to 2.55 million in the same period.

There were 119,900 people classified as unemployed by the second quarter of the year, which is an unemployment rate of 4.5% for those aged 15-74.

The construction and food services sectors saw significant employment increases in the past 12 months, the CSO data shows, as did scientific and technical activities and human health and social work industries.

The number of absences from work, such as temporary layoffs, family leave or holidays, during the reference week when the survey was carried out was 187,200, compared to a peak of 468,500 absences recorded in the second quarter of 2020.

The figures released today also show that in the 12 months to the second quarter of 2022, there was a 9.4% rise in the collective number of hours worked per week, from 75.9 million to a high of 83 million.

CSO statistician Sam Scriven said of the figures: “Employment increased in the year to Q2 2022 across most economic sectors, with the largest increase in the accommodation and food service (+39.2% or +47,300) sector.

“However, employment in this sector at 168,200 remains below the Q2 2019 level of 180,800.

“The number of absences from work (e.g. temporary layoffs from work, family leave, or holidays) during the reference week in Q2 2022 declined by 15.3% to 187,200. This, together with an increase of 8.7% in employment, resulted in an increase of 9.4% or 7.1 million more hours worked per week to a record 83.0 million hours per week in Q2 2022.

“The impact on hours worked varied across the different economic sectors. The number of hours worked in Q2 2022 per week was higher than a year ago in almost all sectors. The 4.8 million hours worked per week in the accommodation and food services sector, while up from Q2 2020 (1.2 million) remains below the pre-pandemic (Q2 2019) figure of 5.4 million.”

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise Leo Varadkar said: “More people are employed in Ireland now than ever before. The unemployment rate in July of this year was the lowest it’s been in 21 years.

“That is incredible given where we were a couple of years ago, with the pandemic and Brexit, and the current challenges we are now facing with Putin’s war and inflation.

“It is a testament to the hard work and remarkable resilience of Irish enterprise.

“The bounce-back in the hospitality sector is another highlight. Although not yet back to where it once was, employment in the accommodation and food service sector increased by 40% in the past 12 months.

“I know these results don’t tell the lived experience for all businesses and that some are still really struggling, especially with increased costs, and we will continue to help with our existing schemes, but also by introducing new measures in the upcoming Budget to help with what will be a difficult winter ahead.

“As we approach full employment too, the government is mindful of the need to help businesses recruit talent with the right skills. We continue to provide thousands of additional re-skilling and upskilling opportunities, as set out in the Economic Recovery Plan, while my department operates an employment permit system which is highly responsive to areas of identified skills needs and labour shortages across the economy.”

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe said: “Today’s data show the continued recovery in the labour market, consistent with the income tax data that we have seen over the summer months. The total number of people at work is now at a new record high of 2.55 million and unemployment has fallen to its lowest rate since 2005.

“Encouragingly, the recovery is being led by strong participation from both youth and female workers, with more opportunities than ever opening to persons wanting to contribute to Ireland’s economy.”

The CSO’s Labour Force Survey is a nationwide survey of households in Ireland that is designed to produce quarterly estimates, including the official measure of employment and unemployment in the state.

The total sample size is 32,500 households, and the survey is carried out during a specific reference week.

Commenting on how the Labour Force Survey is carried out, Mr Scriven added: “Randomly selected households receive introductory letters by post giving them an option to ring the interviewer or the interviewer may call to their house to ask them to take part.

“These surveys give us a picture of the economic and social situation of the citizens of Ireland in a way, and with a level of accuracy, that no-one else can gain.

“If you are asked to take part in a CSO survey, please do so. It means that when CSO figures are quoted you know they’re accurate, because you told us.”

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