Regional balance in FDI

The regional balance of FDI received considerable media attention over the past few days. IDA Ireland’s statement on its 2014 performance (issued on Tuesday, 6 January) noted that 37% of investments had taken place outside of Dublin and Cork. This was an improvement from 2013’s 30% figure but still considerably behind the 50% target set in their Horizon 2020 strategy.

The IDA’s new five-year strategy, due to be published soon, is likely to give more focus to the issue of the regional spread of FDI investment. For urban centres other than the largest cities, the target needs to be smaller scale FDI appropriate for such locations. Smaller urban centres have access to large labour catchments beyond their town boundaries, as well as the potential to attract returning emigrants, and have much improved transport and broadband infrastructure capacity than previously.

The WDC will publish a report later this month analysing trends in agency assisted employment, both foreign owned and Irish owned, in the Western Region over the 2004-2013 period. It will analyse the type of employment, ownership patterns and sectoral performance within the region. County level data will also be examined and the WDC will publish individual county profiles for each of the seven western counties.

We hope this analysis will provide useful insights for enterprise, job creation and regional development policy for the Western Region.

Rural Broadband – RTE’s Morning Edition

Deirdre Frost, WDC was interviewed by Keelin Shanley on RTE Television’s Morning Edition programme for a story on Rural Broadband and the Government’s plans for Next Generation broadband rollout.

The programme featured Minister White, explaining the process and timeline for the rollout of quality broadband to rural areas. The segment was aired on Monday 22nd September 2014.

You can watch the segment here at 1hour 25 mins into the programme http://www.rte.ie/player/ie/show/10326333/ (available until 13 October).

The WDC has published various reports on rural broadband, with its most recent publication arguing the case for Next Generation Broadband rollout to Rural Areas.

Connecting-the-West-report-cover-dec12Connecting the West: Next Generation Broadband in the Western Region is available for download here

Deirdre Frost

Employment Trends in Co. Mayo and the Western Region

The WDC recently made a presentation about employment trends in Mayo and the Western Region at an Education, Training and Jobseekers Expo held in Kiltimagh.   We outlined the current employment profile of Mayo and the Western Region as well as national trends in job vacancies and skill shortages.

  • Wholesale and retail, Industry, Health and Agriculture are the largest employment sectors in Co. Mayo (Census 2011).
  • Agency assisted companies (companies who have received assistance from EI, IDA or Udarás na Gaeltachta) employed 8,300 people in the county in 2013 and Modern Manufacturing and Agri-food are its largest assisted employment sectors (Forfás Annual Employment Survey 2013).
  • All agency assisted sectors (except Agri-food) showed stronger employment growth in Mayo between 2012 and 2013 than the state average.
  • In the Western Region, Wholesale and retail, Industry, Health, Agriculture, Education and Accommodation and food service are the largest employment sectors in 2014 (QNHS, Q1 2014).
  • Agriculture, Wholesale and retail, Professional, scientific and technical activities, Accommodation and food service and Construction showed employment growth in the region over the past year. Industry, Education and Health showed the largest declines.
  • Life sciences, ICT, engineering, food, green economy, care, tourism and the creative sector are among the sectors predicted to grow in the Western Region.

Download the presentation here https://www.wdc.ie/publications/reports-and-papers/

Pauline White

Poor broadband hits rural growth

Deirdre Frost of the WDC was interviewed as part of the story Poor broadband hits rural growth aired on RTE’s Morning Ireland on Wednesday Morning (17th September 2014).

Some interesting case-studies on the innovative use of broadband in the farming sector, are highlighted, for example the use of video to participate in an online mart based in Ballina Co.Mayo and the use of CCTV to monitor stock remotely. These innovative practices are being developed despite the poor broadband service levels available in rural areas.

Follow this link to listen to the full story here. http://www.rte.ie/radio1/morning-ireland/

Deirdre Frost

Rural Commuting to Urban Jobs

Data recently published by the WDC examines the extent of rural commuting to urban centres for work.

The WDC Policy Briefing No. 6 Commuting to Work, Rural Dwellers, Urban Jobs shows that over a third (35.5%) of workers live in rural areas, but just over a fifth of jobs (21.3%) are in rural areas.

This Policy Briefing shows that many rural dwellers commute to work over long distances and shows the importance of urban based employment as a very important element in sustaining rural communities. It highlights the need for job creation strategies to focus on where people live, in rural areas and towns across the country, and not just on the larger cities. Without greater efforts to disperse employment growth there is likely to be more pressure on rural dwellers to commute or move to take up jobs in the larger gateways.

The WDC Policy Briefing notes that

  • nearly one in five (19%) of all rural dwellers commute to work in one of the nine NSS gateways; and
  • one in four (24.4%) commute to work in towns
  • over a quarter of rural dwellers commuting to work in the Galway (25.6%) and Waterford (24.9%) gateways, work in IDA business parks
  • over 18% of rural dwellers commuting to work in Sligo work in IDA business parks

Based on analysis of Census 2011 Place of Work data (POWSCAR), the data show that across the country the most significant employment destination for rural dwellers is urban areas. These workers are profiled and case studies provide further insights.

The Policy Briefing can be downloaded from https://www.wdc.ie/wp-content/uploads/WDC_Policy-Briefing-no-6-Commuting-Final.pdf

Deirdre Frost

Note:

  • The Gateways are the nine National Spatial Strategy Gateways of Dublin, Cork, Limerick/Shannon, Galway, Waterford, Dundalk, Sligo, Letterkenny/(Derry) and Athlone/Tullamore/Mullingar.
  • Towns are those population centres of 1,500 and above and excluding the nine NSS gateways.
  • Rural is defined using the CSO classification where settlements with a population of less than 1,500 and open countryside are defined as rural.

Business Demography

The WDC has just published its analysis of the CSO Business Demography data (2011) which shows there were nearly 31,000 active enterprises operating in the Western Region. At 0.057 the average number of enterprises per working age person in the region was lower than that in the rest of the state (0.062).

Overall the Western Region’s enterprise base was more significantly damaged by the recession than elsewhere. Between 2006 and 2011 the decline in enterprise numbers in the Western Region was nearly twice that in the rest of the state (-18.4% compared with -9.8%).  The region’s largest enterprise sectors experienced the greatest declines.

Some sectors did show growth. Enterprise numbers in ‘education’, ‘information and communications’, ‘real estate’ and ‘professional, scientific and technical activities’ increased. While growth in these knowledge intensive sectors is very welcome, they continue to be less important to the region’s enterprise profile.

The Western Region has a less diverse enterprise profile than the rest of the state. It has a higher share of enterprises in sectors that mainly serve local, domestic or tourist markets, while knowledge intensive services account for a lower share of the region’s businesses. The region’s more urban counties tend to have greater enterprise diversity, with rural counties’ economies more concentrated by sector.

A WDC Insights summary or a more detailed WDC Report on the Business Demography data can be downloaded from https://www.wdc.ie/publications/reports-and-papers/

Pauline White

Note: This report was completed in late July, prior to the very recent publication of the data for 2012. The WDC’s analysis of the 2012 Business Demography data will be published soon.

County Incomes and Regional GDP

The WDC recently published its analysis of the latest County Incomes and Regional GDP data for 2011 produced by the CSO.

Our analysis shows that regional income disparities began to widen again in 2011 and that the West, Mid-West and Border regions had the largest declines in disposable income per person between 2010 and 2011.

At the same time national output is becoming more regionally concentrated in the stronger regions and the share coming from Dublin and the South West combined rose from 57.2% in 2002 to 59.9% in 2011.

The West has performed relatively well and its national position has strengthened to become the third largest contributor to national output. The Border region however has seen its national role decline, to the second smallest region in output terms.

Download  a two page WDC Insights summary here

A more detailed WDC Report, including analysis of county level income figures, is also available here

Pauline White

Welcome to WDC Insights

WDC Insights is the blog of the Western Development Commission Policy Team.  The WDC Policy team analyses and finds solutions for regional and rural issues and provides a regional perspective on national policy objectives.

In the blog we highlight our analyses and publications and update information on key issues important to the development of the Western Region of Ireland.

Please note our blog is in development at the moment so come back soon to see more!