Unemployment declining in Western Region at a slower pace

A few interesting trends are emerging from our initial analysis of a special run of data received from the CSO’s Quarterly National Household Survey for Quarter 1 2015. This data covers the seven county Western Region and compares data for the region with the rest of the state (all other counties combined).

Following the general trend, the Western Region’s unemployment rate is declining but this is happening at a slower pace than elsewhere. The region’s unemployment rate is now 10.4%, above the 9.8% rate in the rest of the state (Fig. 1). This compare with 11.4% and 12.1% respectively a year previously (Q1 2014). The unemployment situation seems to be improving more rapidly in the rest of the state.

Fig. 1: Unemployment rate in Western Region and rest of the state, Q1 2006 - Q1 2015. Source: CSO, QNHS Q1 2015. Special run.

Fig. 1: Unemployment rate in Western Region and rest of the state, Q1 2006 – Q1 2015. Source: CSO, QNHS Q1 2015. Special run.

Part of the reason for this is that the numbers in employment in the region have grown by less than elsewhere. Over the past year the numbers at work increased by 1.4% in the Western Region compared with 2.3% growth in the rest of the state.

The slower decline in the region’s unemployment rate also carries through to long-term unemployment which fell from 7.0% to 6.4% in the Western Region compared with a far greater drop (7.3% to 5.8%) in the rest of the state.

But it is among young people that the region’s poorer unemployment record really stands out. The unemployment rate among young people (15-24 years) in the Western Region is 30.8% (Fig. 2). This is a full 10 percentage points higher than in the rest of the state (20%). And unlike the general trend, the youth unemployment rate in the region is continuing to climb, up from 29.2% in the past year. This is in stark contrast to the rest of the country where youth unemployment declined strongly (from 24.6% to 20%) widening the regional gap even more.

Fig. 1: Unemployment rate in Western Region and rest of the state, Q1 2006 - Q1 2015. Source: CSO, QNHS Q1 2015. Special run.

Fig. 1: Unemployment rate in Western Region and rest of the state, Q1 2006 – Q1 2015. Source: CSO, QNHS Q1 2015. Special run.

Earlier this week the Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed (INOU) highlighted the fact that jobseekers in rural areas are finding it harder to get a job and that the recovery is not being felt in all parts of the country.  Our initial analysis of the Q1 2015 data for the Western Region, where two-thirds of the population live in rural areas, supports this assertion and in particular for younger jobseekers.

The need for a more even spatial pattern of job creation has been highlighted in a number of recent strategies such as the IDA’s, and the upcoming Action Plan for Jobs for the West and Border regions will also focus on this, but it remains to be seen how effective these strategies will be.

The WDC will be releasing further analysis of the region’s labour market over the coming months.

Pauline White