County Incomes and Regional GDP 2012- WDC Report published

The WDC has just published Regional Income and Output-An Analysis of County Incomes and Regional, 2012 which examines income data for the Western Region counties and GVA figures for the regions, looking at the most recent data from the CSO County Incomes and Regional GDP and trends over time.

The headline figures are:

  • The household disposable income per person in the Western Region was €17,735 in 2012, 91.1% of the State average, which was €19,468.
  • In 2012 the highest level of disposable income in the seven Western Region counties was in Galway at €18,890.  This is 97% of the State average.  The lowest was in Donegal at €15,921 (81.8% of the State average).
  • The gap between the average household disposable income in the Western Region and the State in 2012 was 91.1%. Over the long term there has been a narrowing of the gap in disposable income with the Western Region 89.1% of the State average in 2000 and 84.3% in 1995.
  • In 2012 the GVA per person in the West region was €28,256 and €19,016 in the Border region.  These compare with a State figure of €34,308.
  • GVA in 2012 was still below that of 2007 in all regions except the West, where recovery in GVA has been strong.  It was still very significantly below that of 2007 in the Border and Midland regions.
  • The index of GVA (2012, State=100), for the Border region was 55.4 and the West region 82.4.  There has been a widening of disparities among regions since the recovery began.

Two short WDC Insights papers (each 2 pages) have also been published, one highlighting key points in relation to County Incomes and the other examining Trends in Regional GDP.

Regional Income and Output- A WDC ReportRegl income Output report image

County level data on household and per capita disposable incomes is released every year by the CSO alongside data on Gross Value Added (GVA) at a regional level.  This report provides a summary of key figures and trends. County Income data allows us to compare incomes among counties in the Western Region and to examine trends over time. The GVA data at regional level is important for tracking regional output levels and trends as well as changes among regions.

Download the report Regional Income and Output-2012 (PDF 1.5MB)

WDC Insights Trends in County Incomes in the Western RegionInsights inocme pic

This short WDC Insights highlights some of the trends in County Income in the Western  Region which were examined in the report Regional Income and Output. The county income data allows useful comparison among counties and show trends over time.

Download WDC Insights-Trends in County Incomes-Oct 2015 (PDF 0.2MB)

WDC Insights Trends in Regional Output

This WDC Insights presents key data and analysis of trends in regional GVA. This provides a measure Insights GDP pictureof the output and economic activity of each region and allows comparison among regions in Ireland and internationally and shows the relative changes among regions over time.

Download WDC Insights- Trends in regional GDP_Oct 2015 (PDF 0.2MB)

 

 

Helen McHenry

 

An Abundance of Rural Policy?

It seems that rural policies are like buses, nothing comes for a long time and then three arrive almost together. The REDZ Pilot Scheme allocations were announced by Minister of State Ann Phelan, a Town and Village Renewal Scheme was announced by the Taoiseach Enda Kenny at the National Ploughing Championships last week as part of the new Capital Investment Programme and finally, not a new scheme, but a reminder from Minister Coveney of the allocations for the next seven years under the Rural Development Programme.

The REDZ Pilot Scheme

Minister of State for Rural Affairs, Ann Phelan has just announced the allocation of €3.7 under the REDZ Pilot scheme to 26 pilot projects (rather than the 18 envisaged in the call for applications).

A list of the 51 projects allocated funding is available but there is no detail of the projects themselves. They are listed by REDZ title and it must be assumed that some of these projects are across two or more REDZ combining to make the 26 projects noted by Minister Phelan. There are 2 projects worth more than €200,000 (Drogheda and the Shannon Blueway) and a further 11 worth more than €100,000. Another 21 projects were allocated between €50,000 and €100,000 and 17 projects were under €50,000.

The press statement notes the aims and objectives of the REDZ pilot are to complement the objectives of the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 (RDP) as well as addressing the priorities identified for LEADER (poverty reduction, social inclusion and economic development of rural areas). Pending the success of the pilot initiative a call for proposals for a more extensive REDZ initiative under the LEADER elements of the RDP will take place during 2016 (see link above) and it seems €5m has been set aside for this (see below).

Rural Towns and Villages Renewal Scheme

How will the Rural Towns and Villages Renewal Scheme included in the new capital plan Building on Recovery Infrastructure and Capital Investment 2016-2021 announced by the Taoiseach at the Ploughing last week complement the REDZ scheme?  Here are the details from Building on Recovery:

The Exchequer will provide €5 million in 2016 through the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government as part of a new €30 million investment in rural towns and villages. The new scheme will support the revitalisation of rural towns and villages with the aim of improving the living and working environment in rural communities and enhancing their potential to support increased economic activity into the future.[1]

This scheme will be administered by the DECLG and operated by the local authorities (some more detail here[2]in a joint press release by Ministers Kelly and Phelan). It seems there will also be a regional development element in this scheme:

Included within this allocation is €1 million each year in 2016 and 2017 to establish a Strategic Regional Development Office in the Western Region under the Western Development Commission (WDC). This will co-ordinate the implementation of recommendations of the Commission for the Economic Development of Rural Areas (CEDRA) in the region. This will be a pilot initiative and, if successful, could be replicated in other regions. [1].

The Rural Development Programme (2014-2020)

Finally, the Rural Development Programme (co-funded by the EU’s European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and the national exchequer) will have an average spend of €313 million of EU funding annually (an aggregate sum of €2.19 billion over the 7-year Programme lifespan). The allocation for each measure was provided in a written answer to a parliamentary question by Minister Coveney and a recently published summary booklet provides detail in a format more accessible than the full programme document.

While titled the Rural Development Programme, this is effectively an agriculture support programme with one measure, LEADER, a broader rural development scheme. (The measures in the RDP are listed in the footnote below [3]).

Measure 19 ‘Support for LEADER local development’ has been allocated €250m for the programming period. Of this allocation €10m will be spent on ‘Cooperation Projects[4], €15m on the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine Artisan Foods Initiative; a €5m reserve has been allocated to the REDZ Initiative and the final €220m will be divided between the 28 sub regional areas (see full details here). Local Development strategies are being prepared under the following themes:

  • Rural Economic Development / Enterprise Development and Job Creation (incorporating Rural Tourism, Enterprise Development, Broadband, Rural Towns).
  • Social inclusion (building community capacity, training, animation and Rural Youth initiatives).
  • Rural Environment.

A new National Rural network will be established and funded under this Programme.

So where are we with Rural Policy?

It’s great that investments are being made to stimulate rural renewal and rural development. There have been many calls for it and much analysis (see CEDRA for example). Let’s hope that these schemes will be good value for money, focused on current policy objectives and, importantly, that they will achieve the most worthwhile outcomes for the people who are living in rural areas.

To return to the bus simile, we’ll have to have faith that those buses are taking rural policy where we want it to go.

 

 

Helen McHenry

 

[1]  Building on Recovery Infrastructure and Capital Investment 2016-2021 P 39

[2] http://www.environ.ie/en/Community/RuralDevelopment/News/MainBody,42790,en.htm

[3] 3.1 Measure 1 – Knowledge transfer and information actions

3.2 Measure 2 – Advisory services, farm management and farm relief services

3.3 Measure 4 – Investments in physical assets

3.4 Measure 7 – Basic services and village renewal in rural areas- Ireland 2014 – 2020. From the title this would seem to be focused on non agricultural rural development, but in actual fact it is “a complementary measure to GLAS, intended to encourage a holistic approach which increases understanding and management of both the natural and built/cultural heritage present on individual farms. Accordingly, participation in GLAS is the prime eligibility condition.”[4]

3.5 Measure 10 – Agri-environment-climate

3.6 Measure 11 – Organic farming

3.7 Measure 13 – Payments to areas facing natural or other specific constraints

3.8 Measure 16 – Co-operation

3.9 Measure 19 – Support for LEADER local development (CLLD – community-led local development)

[4] Projects where two or more LAGS work together, these projects can be national or international with the 2014-2020 programme placing a particular emphasis on Irish cross border cooperation

How’s life in our region?

How is life in the Border, Midland and West Region? How does it compare with that in other similar regions in Europe and elsewhere? A new tool can help answer these questions.

The OECD has been working on a tool for measuring regional well-being using indicators that take account of more than economics and material conditions and include indicators of quality of life. The OECD Regional Well-being web tool shows the factors contributing to well-being in different regions and allows us to compare our region – the Border, Midland and West [1]  with 361 other OECD regions based on nine topics central to the quality of our lives.

Other tools measuring quality of life (such as the CSO Regional Quality of life in Ireland and the Gateways Development Index) , are already available and are useful for comparing the situation within Ireland, but the OECD index is particularly useful for transnational comparisons.

What’s measured?

The tool uses nine different measures dimensions of well-being (Income, Jobs, Housing, Education, Health, Environment, Safety, Civic Engagement, and Accessibility of Services). This provides a new way to compare a range of factors across OECD regions[2]. The dimensions chosen are all important to quality of life in the OECD regions but because of the need to use comparable data some of the indicators are very limited. This can be seen in Figure 1 below.

The tool and set of indicators provide a common reference for regions to develop their own metrics of well-being and to consider the most appropriate areas of comparison for their own areas. While the indicators used are limited they can help to benchmark the relative position of a place and see how life in the region compares to that elsewhere, where a region has advantages and what aspects of material well-being and quality of life should be targeted for improvement. It also allows for comparison over time.

Figure 1: Topic Indicator Overview

OECD tool indicators

Source: www.oecd.org/regional/regional-policy/website-topics-indicators-overview.pdf

The regional well-being tool provides both a score for each topic and the percentile position of each region on that topic. Often what appears to be a high score may not translate into a high percentile rating because of the wide variation among regions. Similarly, as for Income (discussed below) a low score can still be associated with a good percentile rating.

The limitations of the indicators are, however, clear. For example, Housing is a broad concept but the indicator used is only based on the number of rooms available to occupants, while Access to Services is only measured by access to broadband, and safety relates only to violent death. Nonetheless, it is useful to see how we are doing and how we compare with other similar regions, and it is to be hoped that in the future more information will be added providing a broader base for comparison.

 

How is life in our region?

The tool does not provide an overall score for each region but it illustrates the different strengths and weaknesses of each region (See Figure 2)[3].

Material conditions

  • The BMW region scores highly (7.1) on Housing (which is measured by number of rooms per person) which puts it in the top 26% of OECD regions. Rural regions are more likely to score highly in this indicator, given the lower cost of space compared to city and suburban areas.
  • In contrast the region scores poorly on Jobs (3.0) and is in the bottom 12% of OECD regions for this indicator. The Jobs indicator is based on the employment rates (58.2%) in 2013 and the unemployment rate (15.5%) in 2013.
  • The Income score for the BMW region is also relatively low (4.3) but the region is in the top 51% of OECD regions with an income of $16,219[4] in 2011. This is because of considerable variation in Income levels among OECD regions[5] and so even though the BMW is in the top half of regions for income, the score is relatively low because of the significantly higher incomes in some regions.

Figure 2: Border, Midland and West Region Well Being Index

bmw hows life crop2

Source: http://www.oecdregionalwellbeing.org/region.html#IE01

 

Quality of life:

  • The BMW performs very well on Environment (based on an air pollution indicator) with a score of 9.0 and puts the region in the top 12% of OECD regions.
  • One of the region’s highest scores is for Safety (8.7) where the BMW is in the top 49% of regions. Safety is based on the homicide rate per 100,000 people (1.4 for the region).
  • The BMW scores 7.4 for both Education and Health, and this score puts the region in the top 39% for Health (based on mortality (8.0 deaths per 1,000) and life expectancy (81.1 years)) and the bottom 44% for Education (based on the share of the labour force with at least secondary education (77.2%)).
  • The region is in the top 43% of OECD regions for Civic Engagement (based on voter turnout, 70.6%) with a score of 6.1.
  • Finally, for access to services, which is based only on households with Broadband access (58.7%) the region is in the bottom 27% of OECD regions.

How do we compare?

The main benefit of the tool is ease of comparison with other OECD regions. The tool itself provides an automatic comparison with regions suggested as having similar well-being. The regions suggested by the tool as scoring similar to the BMW are: North East England; Cantabria in Spain; Lisbon in Portugal; the North Island of New Zealand. These can be seen on the BMW page of the tool linked to above.

However it is more useful to compare our region well-being with that in other similar regions rather than based on well-being scores, so four European regions and four OECD regions are included for comparison here. The regions were selected as having similarities with our own BMW region, being maritime and agricultural regions, relatively remote from the main cities or centres of power, and located in temperate climates.

These characteristics mean the regions are often similar in terms of their high scores for Environment, Safety and Housing, given that they are rural regions with less pollution, less violent crime and larger houses. These similarities are interesting, but the differences in other factors (for example jobs and incomes, or access to services (broadband) or health vary significantly and are the result, at least in part, of policy decisions in and for that region. It would be useful, in future, to try to understand the policy decisions and regional characteristics which give rise to the differences in the scores and see what we can learn from them.

It is important to remember that the types and size of the regions selected can influence the areas they score highly, as can rurality or the inclusion of major urban centres.

Comparison with European Regions

Four European regions (NUTS 2) are shown below for comparison (North Jutland, Denmark; Brittany, France; Galicia, Spain; Northern Ireland, UK. See Figure 3). All score well on safety, and on environment, with more variability on the other topic areas. Access to services, which means access to broadband, is interesting given the rural nature of these regions. Both North Jutland and Northern Ireland score 10.0 with 86.7% access in North Jutland and 87% access in Northern Ireland. In contrast, only 59.3% had access to broadband in Galicia. This compares with 58.7% in the BMW.

Brittany and Northern Ireland score relatively well on both jobs and income, and Northern Jutland performs well on jobs but is weaker on income. The BMW was weaker on jobs than either Brittany or Northern Ireland but performed better than Northern Jutland and Galicia on income

Figure 3: Comparison of scores in four selected European regions

North Jutland hows life crop Brittany hows life crop
North Jutland, Denmark Brittany, France
galacia hows life crop NI hows life crop
Galicia, Spain Northern Ireland, UK
Source: http://www.oecdregionalwellbeing.org/

Comparison with selected OECD Regions

Looking further afield, four other OECD regions (New Brunswick, Canada; Tasmania, Australia; Hokkaido, Japan; South Island, New Zealand) with similar characteristics to the BMW are shown below (Figure 4). Again there are high scores for Safety and Environment (except for Hokkaido) and broadband is more variable here, though none of these regions are as good as the better European ones. Hokkaido has the same level of broadband (58.5% of households with access) as the BMW scoring 5.8. All of these regions perform better than the BMW on jobs, with Tasmania doing best, while South Island and Hokkaido both had high job scores with Hokkaido in the top 16 % of OECD regions and South Island in the top 7%. The regions performed similarly or better than the BMW on incomes (Hokkaido and South Island are slightly lower than the BMW). All regions except Hokkaido also achieve high housing scores.

Figure 4: Comparison of scores in four selected OECD regions

 new brunswick hows life crop  tasmania hows life crop
New Brunswick, Canada Tasmania, Australia
 Hokkaido hows life crop  south island hows life crop
Hokkaido, Japan South Island, New Zealand
Source: http://www.oecdregionalwellbeing.org/

 

While there is variation in the scores of all of these regions, and they all have characteristics which will make them perform differently, it would be useful to consider how regions with similar characteristics vary and whether there are policies or actions that have improved their scores, and whether there are policy learnings from such regions, or different uses of natural resources that could be adopted in the BMW.

 

 

Helen McHenry

 

[1] Border, Midland and West is a NUTS 2 region and while larger than the seven county Western Region covered by the WDC it is the relevant region at this level as it contains all but one of the WDC’s counties.

[2] The most recent available data is used and this varies by year for different categories. The Tool is updated as new data becomes available. See www.oecdregionalwellbeing.org and click Download the data for full details.

[3] The same information is also available for the Southern and Eastern region (http://www.oecdregionalwellbeing.org/region.html#IE02 ), but because of the simplicity of the data used the tool is best employed making international comparisons.

[4] Disposable household income per head, US$, current prices, current PPP

[5] It varies from $51,677 (Australian Capital Territory) to $6,478 (Tarapaça, Chile)

The Western Region’s Labour Market

The WDC has just published a new analysis of the Western Region’s Labour Market. This is based on a special run of data from the CSO’s QNHS for the period 2004-2014 for the seven-county Western Region. Understanding the region’s labour market is important for effective job creation, enterprise and skills policy.

In 2014 the Western Region’s adult population was just over 600,000 with 350,000 active in the labour force. Its labour force has contracted since 2012, largely because of outward migration, and is characterised by higher part-time, under- and self-employment, for both men and women. These are distinct differences in the nature of the region’s labour market that may point to certain weaknesses which need to be addressed by tailored job creation actions for the region.

Western Regions adult populatin diagram

 

Some of the key findings of the analysis are:

  1. Lower labour force participation in the Western Region: A smaller share of the Western Region’s adult population is engaged in the labour market and therefore economically active. The region’s participation rate in 2014 is 57.7% compared with 60.1% in the rest of the state. As human capital is among the most critical factors for regional economic development, this has negative implications for the region’s economic growth and viability. The higher level of economic dependency, resulting from the larger proportion of the population outside of the labour force, also has important social impacts and increases the need for state transfers.
  2. Higher share of self-employment: The region has a higher share of self-employment (without employees) than the rest of the state – 16.3% of all employment in the region compared with 11.4% in the rest of the state. This increases the importance of policy and supports to facilitate the self-employed to establish and sustain their businesses, such as soft business supports, quality broadband, networking, etc. Many may work from home or are mobile and are engaged in local services and therefore outside the remit of the enterprise agencies. They play a particularly significant role in sustaining rural communities and economies. This role, and their needs, requires further investigation and policy focus.
  3. Higher share of part-time working and recent jobs growth more likely to be part-time: There is a higher degree of part-time working in the region with 25.7% of all jobs in the region in 2014 part-time, compared with 23.5% in the rest of the state. Recent jobs growth has also been more likely to be part-time in the region than elsewhere. While part-time working can play an important role for those with caring and other commitments, the greater share of recent jobs growth in the region that is part-time raises some concerns over the nature of employment and the quality of recent jobs growth. A focus on stimulating more full-time jobs should be built into job creation policy for the region.
  4. Lower employment growth: Employment in the region grew over 2012-2014 by 1.4% but this was less than in the rest of the state (3.9%). The jobs recovery in the region is lagging that elsewhere. Initiatives to stimulate and facilitate job creation in regional locations are required to address the region’s weaker jobs performance.
  5. Declining unemployment influenced by out-migration: Unemployment has declined by 28.4% since 2012 but this has only partially been caused by jobs growth. The greater part is due to the loss of unemployed people from the region, either overseas or to other parts of Ireland. The decline in unemployment in the region has been stronger than elsewhere, leading to its unemployment rate dropping below that in the rest of the state (11.5% compared with 12.1% in 2014), reflecting the significant impact of out-migration on the region’s labour market.
  6. Higher youth unemployment rate: The Western Region has a higher youth (15-24 yrs) unemployment rate, 29.2% compared with 24.6% in the rest of the state. As the region has a lower total unemployment rate, this indicates that youth unemployment is a more serious challenge for the region. High youth unemployment can have very significant long-term impacts, as a period of unemployment at a young age can hinder the person’s career prospects and earnings potential. The needs of young jobseekers in the Western Region should be a key policy priority, nationally and for the region, both to prevent them from falling into long-term unemployment and also to reduce out-migration.

These aspects of the Western Region’s labour market should inform the development of the upcoming Action Plan for Jobs for the West, Border and Mid-West regions. The distinctive characteristics of the region’s labour market profile should influence which policies are prioritised for the region and the sectors of focus for job creation strategies. A new WDC Insights on the Western Region’s sectoral profile will be published in coming weeks.

Download two-page WDC Insights WDC Insights-The Western Region’s Labour Market-April 2015 (PDF 0.2MB)

Download full WDC report The Western Region’s Labour Market 2004-2014-WDC Report March 2015 (PDF 2.5MB)

Pauline White

Regions and Recovery?

Discussion of regional performance and the spread of growth are back on the agenda with the preparation of the Regional Action Plan for Jobs and the new National Planning Framework.   The recent CSO publication of the 2012 data on County Incomes and Regional GDP[1] provides some insight into regional performance.

On county incomes the CSO note that of the eight regional authority areas, the Dublin region had the highest average disposable income per person in 2012. At €22,011 it was 13% higher than the State figure of €19,468. Of the remaining seven regions, only the Mid West, at €19,701, had an average disposable income per person 1.2% higher than the State average. The Border region with €17,126 and Midland region with €17,288 fared worst among the eight regions at approximately 12% each below the State average.

The gap between the maximum and minimum value of disposable income per person per region increased from €4,325 in 2011 (revised) to €4,885 in 2012, with Dublin regional incomes increasing by €400 and those of the lowest region, the Midland region in 2011 and now the Border region in 2012, decreasing by €160.

Dublin remains the only region with higher per capita disposable income than the State average during the entire 2003-2012 period while the Midland, Border and West regions have consistently earned less than the State average. For the same period (2003-2012) the CSO note that divergence between the regional authority areas was at its lowest in 2010, with a difference between maximum and minimum disposable incomes of €3,467, but has widened in 2011 and 2012.

county incomes 2012

Source: CSO County incomes and regional GDP 2012

The CSO also published the Regional Gross Value Added (GVA) figures for 2012 and the chart below of GVA per person at Basic Prices, 2003 to 2012, shows the growth in all regions in the period up to 2007 and the effect of the financial crash on all regions. Since then (to 2012) there was continued decline or stagnation in regional output in the Border, Midland and Mid East regions, while GVA growth in the Dublin and the West resumed in 2010.

GVA per person at Basic Prices, 2003 to 2012

Regl GVA per person 03-12

Source: CSO County incomes and regional GDP 2012, Table 9

GVA per person showed considerable variation among the eight regions, with the highest in Dublin €51,839 (151% of the state average) and the lowest in the Midland region (€18,638, 54% of the state average). In the West, GVA per person was €28,256 (82% of the state average) and in the Border region it was €19,016 in 2012, 55% of the state average. Clearly the structure of regional economies is important here. The WDC will produce further more detailed analysis of this CSO data in the coming weeks.

Also last week, as part of its quarterly economic bulletin, the Nevin Institute for Economic Research noted that “concerns persist that the recovery has yet to spread across the country – a phenomenon typified by weak or limited employment growth in regions outside Dublin and its hinterland.[2]

They also considered the meaning of this trend:

“It is not yet clear whether the regional trend represents A) a structural shift in the Irish economy towards the Greater Dublin Area with stagnation or decline persisting into the future in the western half of the country, or, alternatively, B) represents a temporary phenomenon whereby the economy recovery currently taking hold in Dublin gradually extends out to other regions.”  NERI Quarterly Economic Observer (QEO) Spring 2015 Pg 9

While the recovery is underway, it is happening earliest and fastest in Dublin, and while economic growth is very welcome it needs to spread beyond Dublin and other big urban centres. As the WDC noted in its 2010 Policy Briefing “Why care about regions?” the impact of growth in all regions is significant for the national economy as a whole. Lagging regions generate an important part of national economic output and where there are underused resources in lagging regions mobilising them will add to overall national economic growth.

Bringing about convergence is less important than improving the performance of all regions. In order to promote regional growth, policymakers need to develop a comprehensive regional policy which not only links regions through infrastructural investments, but also fosters human capital, and facilitates innovation.  If regional strengths and areas of comparative advantage are taken into account in the implementation of national enterprise policy, it is likely to be far more effective. Hopefully this will be the case in the forthcoming Regional Action Plans for Jobs

 Truly national growth involves growth in all regions. If regional policy is effective it will result in a country with better options for all.

 

Helen McHenry

 

[1] CSO County incomes and regional GDP 2012

[2] NERI Quarterly Economic Observer (QEO) Spring 2015, Pg 1,

The Battle for Rural Ireland – RTE 1

RTE screened a documentary, The Battle for Rural Ireland, on 9th March 2015, to which Deirdre Frost contributed. Presented by Richard Curran, the programme highlights the challenges faced by rural communities and towns, both in the context of the recent recession and the outlook for further rural depopulation. Much of the projected population growth is to occur on the East coast.

You can watch the programme here (available until 30 March).

While urbanisation is not unique to Ireland, the programme shows the effects of population loss on rural areas, in terms of service provision and employment opportunities.

The Battle for Rural Ireland highlights some examples of innovative enterprise development and employment creation in rural areas but ultimately the need for stronger regional and rural policy is clear.

Deirdre Frost

Tourism growth…but not everywhere

Along with more positive signs of economic growth generally, statistics on the tourism sector indicate growth in overseas visitor numbers and revenues in the last few years.

The Department of Transport note that overall visits to Ireland in 2013 rose by 7.2% and spending by visitors to Ireland also increased in 2013, with total tourism and travel earnings from overseas visitors growing by 9.4%.

Examining the regional and county data suggests that these trends are not evident everywhere with different patterns even at a sub regional level such as within the Western Region.

For example between 2011 and 2013, the number of overseas visitors declined in four of the Western Region counties; Donegal had a decline of 2.9%, from 205,000 to 199,000, Mayo experienced a decline of -18.6%, from 268,000 to 218,000, Sligo recorded a decline of 20.3%, from 167,000 to 133,000 and Roscommon recorded a decline of 11,000 (23.9%), from 46,000 to 35,000 in 2013.

In contrast, counties Leitrim, Galway and Clare all experienced an increase in overseas tourist numbers over the period. Clare recorded an increase of 44,000, to 485,000 (+9.9%), Galway experienced an increase of 9.5% to 1,028,000, while Leitrim had an increase of 8,000 (25.8%) to 39,000.

The trend in overseas visitor revenue by county does not always correlate with the trend in numbers of overseas visitors. Between 2011 and 2013, there were declines in overseas visitor revenue in four of the Western Region counties, Galway (despite an increase in visitors over the period) as well as Mayo, Roscommon and Sligo. Overseas visitor revenue increased in three of the counties, Donegal (despite a decline in tourist numbers), Leitrim and Clare.

These data highlight important sub regional differences and trends, especially considering the emergence of the sector from recession in the last few years. It is important that all counties experience recovery in numbers and revenue given the importance of the sector to the economy of the Western Region.

The impact of product development such as the Wild Atlantic Way is likely to become clearer in data from 2014 and it will be interesting to note the effects on coastal counties in particular.

2013 Statistics 

2011 Statistics

Deirdre Frost

Trends in Agency Assisted Employment in the Western Region

The WDC has today published a new WDC Insights Trends in Agency Assisted Employment in the Western Region as well as a county profile for each of the seven western counties.

Employment in businesses which have received support from one of the main enterprise agencies, which are usually export oriented, is termed agency assisted employment. The WDC has published its analysis of data on these businesses for the Western Region for 2004 to 2013.

Our analysis has found that:

  • Lower recent growth: There was less volatility in assisted job numbers in the Western Region over the period. Assisted jobs in the region have not grown as strongly as in the rest of the country since growth resumed in 2010.
  • More permanent full-time employment: Recent assisted jobs growth in the Western Region is more likely to be permanent full-time with the share of temporary/part-time jobs lower now than at the start of the period.
  • Concentrated by sector: Assisted jobs in the Western Region are more concentrated by economic sector than in the rest of the state and manufacturing activities continue to dominate.
  • Foreign owned sector driving growth: The strongest recent assisted jobs growth has been in the modern manufacturing and information and communication sectors which are the sectors with the highest shares of foreign ownership. The foreign owned sector has driven recent growth in the Western Region to a greater extent than in the rest of the state.
  • Irish owned sector performing less well: There has been much greater volatility in the Irish owned sector over the ten year period and the region’s Irish owned sector is not showing as strong a recovery as in the rest of the country.
  • Urban concentration: Urban concentration, especially in the cities, is a feature of assisted jobs. The resumption of growth does appear to be spreading across the Western Region to some degree, although Clare and Leitrim have seen no increase in assisted employment.

Agency assisted employment is a key policy tool for job creation and unemployment reduction.  Recent growth in assisted jobs in the Western Region has not been as strong as elsewhere, particularly among Irish owned businesses.  Agency assisted job creation in the Western Region needs to focus on increasing sectoral diversity and strengthening the Irish owned sector.  Addressing the lower levels of assisted employment in the counties of the North West should also be a policy priority.

Download the two page WDC Insights, full WDC Report and/or 7 county profiles here