Employment levels in Ireland have reached a new record high, with 2.64 million people working at the beginning of the summer, according to the latest Labour Force Survey conducted by the Central Statistics Office (CSO). Despite global economic uncertainty caused by surging interest rates, unemployment has fallen to 4.4%. The figures reveal that most sectors of the economy, with the exception of agriculture, forestry, fishing, and the industry sector, have expanded employment compared to the same period last year. Employment has also increased in every region, although growth in employment numbers was slight in the Midlands region.
The strong employment figures are already having an impact on income tax revenues collected by the government, despite the global economic slowdown. Finance Minister Michael McGrath highlighted the increase in information technology jobs, noting that smaller tech companies and indigenous tech companies were recruiting staff. However, he also emphasized the risks associated with relying on significant amounts of corporation tax receipts paid by a handful of multinationals, as highlighted in the government’s Annual Taxation Report. The report warns that a sustained downturn in the information technology sector could have severe implications for the public finances. While there may be further announcements of job losses driven by global trends, McGrath believes the overall trend is positive.
Other surveys have shown that Irish manufacturing is facing a high level of uncertainty, as major economies teeter on the brink of recession following interest rate hikes by global central banks to tame inflation. Despite fears of job losses by US tech giants based in Ireland, the Irish economy has weathered the storm. Economist Jim Power praised the increase in the number of women in the workforce, describing the employment survey as “unambiguously positive.” However, elevated levels of youth unemployment will require government scrutiny, according to Power.
The CSO’s survey revealed that the total level of unemployment in the quarter had fallen to 4.4%, equivalent to 121,200 people. Long-term unemployment remained relatively unchanged from the same period last year, with 31,900 people affected. CSO statistician Sam Scriven noted that the employment rate for people up to the age of 64 was the highest since records began in 1998, surpassing 74%.
Overall, the employment figures in Ireland are encouraging, demonstrating resilience in the face of global economic challenges. However, the government must remain vigilant, particularly in sectors such as manufacturing, and address the issue of youth unemployment to ensure continued economic growth and stability.