The CSO recently released their Business Demography data for 2014 which, combined with the Preliminary Results of Census 2016, shows the continuation of clear economic as well as demographic spatial patterns.
The Business Demography data measures active enterprises in the business economy and provides data at county level. An enterprise is assigned to the county where it is registered with the Revenue, so for a business that has multiple locations (e.g. chain stores, banks, multinationals) the business is only counted in the county where it is registered (often Dublin). This makes the data somewhat limited, however it does give a true reflection of enterprises that are registered and operating in a county.
Greater decline in enterprise numbers in Western Region since 2008
In 2014 there were 40,797 active enterprises registered in the seven county Western Region. This was 8.6% below the 44,621 in 2008. In contrast, in the rest of the state (all counties other than the seven counties of the Western Region) the number in 2014 was just 1% below the 2008 figure. And there were even greater differences when we consider sectors. Fig. 1 shows that with the sole exception of Real Estate, the Western Region had a weaker performance – greater decline or lower growth – than the rest of the state in every sector between 2008 and 2014.
Weaker performance for Western Region across almost all sectors
Unsurprisingly Construction experienced the greatest decline in the number of enterprises, while the locally traded services sectors of Transportation & Storage, Wholesale & Retail also declined in both the region and rest of the state. For three sectors (Financial & Insurance, Accommodation & Food Service, and Industry) there was a fall in the region, but growth elsewhere. The Financial & Insurance sector shows a very stark difference, while there was also a substantial difference for Industry.
In the sectors where the Western Region experienced growth, we can see there was a considerable gap with the rest of the state the knowledge services sectors of Information & Communications and Professional services.
Higher share of enterprises in traditional sectors and local services
The difference in the experience over the period contributed to the current enterprise profile of the the Western Region and rest of the state. Fig. 2 shows that, similar to employment patterns, the traditional sectors (Construction and Industry) and local services (Wholesale & Retail and Accommodation & Food Service) account for larger shares of all enterprises in the region, with a lower share of enterprises in knowledge services sectors.
Varying performance for western counties
From Fig. 3 it is clear that there were massive differences in the experience of counties over the period, ranging from a 14.2% decline in the number of enterprises in Monaghan to a 7.1% increase in Dublin, the only county with more registered enterprises in 2014 than in 2008. This is of course influenced by the practice of registering business headquarters in Dublin even if they have locations in other counties. Evan allowing for this, there is a clear spatial pattern with Border and Midland counties experiencing particularly large declines.
Among the western counties, two of the large rural counties (Donegal and Mayo) experienced the greatest declines in enterprise numbers. Roscommon, Clare, Galway and Leitrim meanwhile had quite similar experiences, declining by around 7%. Sligo performed best with a fall of just over 4% in its number of enterprises. The enterprise profile of each county and the performance of enterprises in different sectors is a key explanation for these county differences and we’ll examine county patterns in more detail in a future post.
In addition to the data on enterprise numbers, the Business Demography data also provides information on employment in these enterprises, which we’ll also examine in more detail in future. But this initial overview of the data clearly shows a significant decline in the number of enterprises based in the Western Region which is reflected in a weaker performance across all sectors of the business economy.
 It does not include Agriculture, Health, Public Administration or Other Services. While it does include data on Education, that sector is not counted in the total figures as many of the enterprises in the sector are publicly owned.