Strong jobs growth in manufacturing but decline in market services in Western Region

Between 2012 and 2015 employment in market services sectors declined in the Western Region, but grew in the rest of the country.  This is the main reason for slower jobs recovery in the Western Region, where employment grew by 2.8% compared with 6.3% in the rest of the state during that period.  That’s according to a new Western Development Commission (WDC) publication Impact of Sectors on Western Region’s Jobs Recovery’.

Market services are businesses which supply services to consumers or other businesses.  During 2012-2015, jobs in Administration and Other Services (-11.4%), Locally Traded Services (retail, hospitality, transport) (-7.5%) and Knowledge Services (finance, ICT, professional services) (-7.3%) all declined in the Western Region.  This was during a period of recovery in these sectors nationally.

‘Many of these businesses rely on consumer spending.  Lower incomes in the region than in much of the rest of the state is one of the challenges they face.  The decline in Locally Traded Services has also contributed to the region’s higher youth unemployment rate of 30.8% compared with 20% in the rest of the state.  These are areas where young people often find work,’ according to Paddy McGuinness, Chairperson of the WDC.

‘Job declines in high-value, knowledge services such as ICT, which are seen as key to future growth, is a particular concern.  Improving the region’s capacity to attract and grow knowledge services activities must be central to jobs and enterprise strategies,’ he added.

On a positive note, the region’s manufacturing sector is performing strongly.  Employing 50,000 people, Industry is the single largest employer in the Western Region.  It is also more important to regional employment, accounting for 15.6% of all jobs compared with 12.2% in the rest of the state.  Over the three years 2012-2015 industrial employment in the Western Region grew by 8.3%, more than twice the growth in the rest of the state (3.4%).

‘Our manufacturing base is a core strength for the Western Region.  It is critical that we build on this strength and maintain our competitiveness as a location for globally trading Irish and foreign-owned companies, offering a highly skilled workforce, top class infrastructure and responsive higher education institutions,’ concluded Mr. McGuinness.

Similar to the rest of the state, Agriculture (+32%) and Construction (+18.2%) saw the largest increases in job numbers, driven by strong agri-food exports and a resurgence in building activity.

Download the two-page WDC Insights publication ‘Impact of Sectors on Western Region’s Jobs Recovery’ here


Notes to Editor:

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.

The Western Development Commission (WDC) ( is the statutory body promoting economic and social development in the Western Region (counties Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, Roscommon, Mayo, Galway and Clare). Its strategic goals are:

  • To inform policy-making on economic and social development in the Western Region through high quality analysis.
  • To promote the benefits of living, working and doing business in the Western Region.
  • To encourage the development of the rural economy based on the sustainable development of the Western Region’s strengths and resources.
  • To provide risk capital to micro, small and medium sized and social enterprises in their start-up and expansion phases through the WDC Investment Fund (WIF).

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