Self-employment Driving Jobs Growth in the Western Region

30.8% Youth Unemployment Rate

Jobs growth in the Western Region is much slower than in the rest of the country.  Over the three years 2012-2015, the number of people at work in the region grew by just 2.8%, which was less than half the growth in the rest of the state at 6.3%. That’s according to a new Western Development Commission (WDC) publication ‘Jobs Recovery and the Western Region’.

Interestingly, many of the new jobs are classified as self-employed which demonstrates that there is an entrepreneurial culture in the region.  Over this period, the number of self-employed increased by 13.6% compared with just 0.7% growth in the number of employees.  Self-employment is a more important source of jobs in the region than elsewhere, with 1 in 5 working people in the region self-employed, compared with 1 in 6 in the rest of Ireland.

‘While the jobs recovery that is taking place in the Western Region is welcome, the slower pace means the region is not fully benefitting from improving economic conditions.  Limited job options, particularly in smaller towns, villages and  more rural areas, means that more people are having to create their own jobs,’ according to Paddy McGuinness, Chairperson of the WDC.

‘65,000 people work for themselves in the Western Region with over three-quarters of them working alone.  Fully recognising and supporting self-employment as a source of jobs growth is central to the region’s future.  Addressing issues such as social protection, broadband access, isolation and support to scale are vital for the region’s self-employed,’ he added.

The region’s slower jobs recovery is impacting on young people (15-24 yrs) in particular.  In 2015 the region’s youth unemployment rate was 30.8% compared with just 20% for those living in the rest of the country.  Young people who are out of work and not in education or training for a long time, face serious barriers in finding work.

Fig 1 - Youth unemployment rate 2006-2015

Employment in several of the sectors where young people often find jobs, such as retail and hospitality, declined in the Western Region between 2012 and 2015, while it grew in the rest of the country.

‘Our region’s young people are suffering because of the uneven regional spread of Ireland’s jobs recovery.  This reality needs to be acknowledged and addressed in any Programme for Government agreed in discussions presently taking place on the formation of a new Government,’  concluded Mr. McGuinness.


The two-page WDC Insights publication ‘Jobs Recovery and the Western Region’ can be downloaded here

All data taken from a special run of the CSO’s Quarterly National Household Survey, Quarter 1 2012-2015 for the seven county Western Region.