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County labour markets in the Western Region: what’s happening?

Last week, the WDC published eight new WDC Insights publications.  Each of these two-page publications examines the labour market of a Western Region county, with Galway City and County examined separately. The analysis is based on data from Census 2016.

Each of the WDC Insights outlines the Principal Economic Status and Labour Force status of the county’s adult population (15+ yrs), compared with the state average, as well as the sectors where the county’s residents work and how this has changed since 2011.

In this blog post, I’ll focus on Principal Economic and Labour Force Status. A future blog post will examine the sectoral pattern of employment.  Below is a summary of the Principal Economic Status of the adult population of each of the western counties.  Scroll down to find your county!

1.  Clare

Clare had a total population of 118,817 in 2016 – 7.1% higher than a decade earlier. The county has a labour force of 56,529 or 60% of its adult population. The labour force includes both the number of people at work and those looking for work. This figure is up 0.7% on the previous Census, compared with 3.2% growth nationally.The number of persons at work, at 49,511, represents 53.1% of the adult population, compared to a state average of 53.4%. Total employment in the county grew 8.6% between 2011 and 2016, lower than the national average of 11%. The share of self-employed in Clare is far higher than the national average, 10.4% compared with 8.3%.  Given the county’s location between two large cities, commuting is an important factor. Almost 10,000 or one in five workers are travelling outside of the county for work. The figures do not include the 5,636 people who travel into Clare from elsewhere for work.

At 7,018, the 7.5% share of the county’s adults who are unemployed is slightly lower than the national average of 7.9%.  Of the 40% of Clare’s adults who are outside the labour force, those who are retired are the largest group at 16.1%, which is higher than the national average. Clare has a lower than average share of its population unable to work due to disability and illness and a lower share of students and pupils.

2.  Donegal

Donegal had a total population of 159,192 in 2016 – 8.1% higher than a decade earlier.  However, the county’s population has dropped by 1.2% compared to the last Census (2011) – one of only two counties nationally where population declined. The other is Mayo.The county has a labour force of 71,182, down 1.3% on 2011, compared with a 3.2% growth nationally.  Donegal is one of just six counties where the labour force shrank in the past five years. Other counties in the Western Region where the labour force shrank include Roscommon, Mayo, Sligo and Leitrim.  Outside of the Western Region, only Tipperary also had a decline.

The number of Donegal residents at work is 58,353, representing 47% of the adult population compared to a state average of 53.4%.  Total employment in Donegal grew 9.5% between 2011 and 2016 – below the 11% national average.  Commuting — including across the border — is an important factor and 10% of those employed commute outside of the county.

At 12,829, the 10.3% share of the county’s adults who are unemployed is the second highest in the state (after Longford), and considerably above the national average (7.9%).  The share of Donegal’s adults who are outside the labour force (42.7%) is substantially above the national average of 38.1%. The number of ‘retired’ among these is also considerably above the national average at 18% compared with 14.5%.  The county also has a higher share unable to work due to disability and illness, but its share of students and pupils is below the national average, despite the presence of a third-level institution.

3.  Galway City

Galway City had a total population of 78,668 in 2016, up 8.6% on a decade earlier.  It had a labour force of 40,126, 61.3% of its adult population.  This figure is up 3.4% on the previous Census compared with a 3.2% growth nationally.

The number of City residents at work is 34,951 (53.4% of its adult population) which is the same as the national share.  Total employment in Galway City grew 10.8% between 2011 and 2016, on a par with national growth.  At 5,175, the 7.9% of adults who are unemployed in the City is similar to the national average.

Of those adults outside the labour force, Galway City is the only local authority area in the Western Region where students, not retirees, form the largest group (17.1%). The figures relate to the resident population of the City, so those living elsewhere but commuting into the City for work are not counted here but those living in the City but working outside of it are.

4.  Galway County

Galway County had a total population of 179,390 in 2016 12.6% higher than a decade ago.  It had a labour force of 85,054, 61.3% of its adult population – the same share as Galway City. Galway County’s labour force is up 0.6% since 2011; this compared with a 3.2% growth nationally.

The number of Galway County residents at work is 75,116 (54.1% of all adults) compared to a national average of 53.4%. Total employment grew by 8.5% between 2011 and 2016 compared with the national average of 11%.  The figures relate to the resident population of Galway County, so those living in the County but commuting into the City for work are included in the figures but those commuting to work in Galway County are not included.

At 9,938, the 7.2% of Galway County residents who are unemployed is slightly lower than the national average.  Of those adults outside the labour force, retired is the largest group at 14.8% just slightly above the national average.

5.  Leitrim

Leitrim had a total population of 32,044 in 2016 —10.7% higher than a decade earlier.  It has a labour force of 14,891 or 59.3% of the adult population.  This figure is down 0.9% on the previous Census, compared with 3.2% growth nationally.  Leitrim is one of just six counties in the state where the labour force shrank.The number of persons at work, at 12,728, represents 50.7% of the adult population compared to a state average of 53.4%.  Total employment in the county grew 6.3% between 2011 and 2016 — compared to the national average of 11%.   The county’s labour force differs most strongly from the national pattern in self-employment with Leitrim having a far higher share — 10.3% compared with 8.3%.

One out of every three workers living in County Leitrim are reliant on employment outside of the county.  Of the 12,728 working Leitrim residents, 4,210 travel outside of the county to their place of employment. The figures do not include 2,184 people who travel into Leitrim from elsewhere for work.

At 2,163, the 8.6% share of the county’s adults who are unemployed is above the 7.9% national average.  Of the 40.7% of Leitrim’s adults who are outside the labour force, those who are retired are the largest group at 18.1%, higher than the national average of 14.5%.  Leitrim has a higher-than-average share of its population unable to work due to disability and illness and a lower share of students and pupils.

6.  Mayo

Mayo had a total population of 130,507 in 2016, down 0.1% on 2011 figures.  Mayo and Donegal are the only two counties nationally where the population declined.  Mayo had a labour force of 60,030 or 57.7% of its adult population. This figure is notably below the national average of 61.9% and represents a decline of 1.5% on the previous Census, compared with 3.2% growth nationally.  Mayo is one of only six counties where the labour force shrank.The number of persons at work, at 51,439, represents 49.5% of the adult population, compared to a state average of 53.4%.  Employment in Mayo grew by just 4.8% in the past five years — the second lowest growth in the state (after Sligo) and below the national average of 11%.  Commuting is an important factor with more people commuting outside the county to work than those travelling to work in Mayo.  Almost 10% of those employed commutes outside of the county for work.

At 8,591, the 8.3% share of the county’s adults who are unemployed is higher than the national average of 7.9%.  The number of retired in Mayo is the highest in the state, accounting for 19.3% of all adults compared to a national average of 14.5%.

7.  Roscommon

Roscommon had a total population of 64,544 in 2016 – 9.8% higher than a decade earlier.  The county has a labour force of 29,666 or 60% of its adult population. The labour force includes both the number of people at work and those looking for work.  This figure is down 1.9% on the previous Census, compared with 3.2% growth nationally. Roscommon is one of just six counties in the state where the labour force declined.The number of persons at work, at 25,819, represents 50.7% of the adult population, compared to a state average of 53.4%.  Total employment in Roscommon grew 5.9% between 2011 and 2016 – significantly lower than the national average of 11%.  Commuting is an important factor with 9,220 people who live in Roscommon travelling outside the county to work.  The 3,847 people who live outside Roscommon but travel into the county for work are not counted here.

At 3,847, the 7.6% share of the county’s adults who are unemployed is slightly lower than the national average of 7.9%.  Reflecting Roscommon’s older age profile, at 17.2% the share of adults who are retired makes up the largest group outside of the labour force, compared to a state average of 14.5%.

8.  Sligo

Sligo had a total population of 65,535 in 2016 – 7.6% higher than a decade earlier.  The county has a labour force of 30,252 or 57.9% of its adult population. This is notably lower than the national average of 61.9%. The labour force includes both the number of people at work and those looking for work. The Sligo figure is down 2.6% on the previous Census, compared with 3.2% growth nationally. It is one of just six counties in the state where the labour force fell.Just under half (49.8%) of Sligo’s adults are ‘at work’ — below the 53.4% national average. Sligo has suffered the lowest employment growth of any county in the past five years. Total employment grew by just 2.2% between 2011 and 2016, significantly below the 11% national growth and the lowest of any county in the state. Sligo has a somewhat higher share of self-employed – 9% compared with the national average of 8.3%.

These figures count the resident population of the county. But Sligo has a positive balance when it comes to commuting with more people travelling into the county to work (3,730) than travel out of it (3,203). Those who come into the county for work are not counted here but those who commute out of Sligo are.

Sligo’s share of unemployed is close to the national average. People who are retired form the largest group among those outside the labour force and at 17.7% of the adult population, their share is considerably higher than the average of 14.5%, reflecting the county’s older age profile.  Sligo also has a higher share of people unable to work due to disability or illness as well as a higher share of students and pupils, influenced by the location of IT Sligo and St Angela’s College in the county.

All eight WDC Insights can be downloaded here

What is Rural?

Many of us probably feel we know what rural means.  Perhaps when we hear the word we think of green fields, or wild mountains, or deserted beaches.  Or maybe we think of small villages, modern bungalows or just anywhere beyond ‘the big smoke’.  Arguably all of these are or can be considered rural and, indeed, in most situations it is not important how we define rural.  We know what it is, we use our mental definition, we even have casual conversations where everyone is talking about a different ‘rural’ and for the most part that doesn’t matter.

But is does matter when we come to make policy for rural places and when we think what should be included in ‘rural policy’, because the kind of policy we make and the kind of issues we address are strongly influenced by what we define as rural.  If we think of rural as fields and pastures then we may think of rural policy as agricultural policy, and if we think of it as market towns and pretty villages we may see it as a heritage or cultural issue and when we think of rural dwellers we have to think about how different policies affect people.

Defining Rural

The question of how we define rural for policy purposes and in relation to people rather than based on landscapes or places has not been resolved in Ireland.  While the OECD uses a definition relating to population density[1], the CSO defines the rural population as those living outside settlements of 1,500 people, while CEDRA (the Commission for the Economic Development of Rural Areas) defined rural as those areas outside the administrative boundaries of the five main cities (Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway and Waterford).  That definition includes some large urban settlements like Ennis, Dundalk and Kilkenny.  Realising our Rural Potential- the Action Plan for Rural Development refers to the CEDRA definition and provides a map of population densities but does not specify a definition of rural.

Finally, and most recently, the new Draft National Planning Framework (NPF) Ireland 2040- Our Plan defines rural as all areas outside towns of 10,000, unless they are within the immediate or ‘metropolitan’ catchment of a city[2].

How we define rural impacts on how many people we are considering when we make rural policy.  Is it a minority, niche policy, or something relevant to a majority of the population?  With the different definitions we get a very different population groups.  Under the OECD definition (a variation of which is used by Eurostat) 70.5% of the state population is predominantly rural.  Ireland is the most rural of the EU27 countries for both population and land area (for more information see note 1 below).

Looking at the different definitions used in Irish policy making (by the CSO, CEDRA and the NPF), for both the state as a whole and the Western Region we can see significant differences in the proportion of the population which is rural.

Figure 1: Percentage of the population living in rural areas according to definition for Western Region and State

Source: CSO Census of Population 2016,  Profile 2 – Population Distribution and Movements / E2014 own calculations

The Western Region is a very rural region and, whichever definition is used, the majority of the Region’s population falls into that category.  The CSO has the narrowest definition, with fewest defined as rural people (65%, or 535,953 people in the Western Region) while the CEDRA definition is inevitably the broadest, including on two thirds of the population of thewhole state (90% of the people in the Western Region). Nationally the definition of rural can take in anything between 37% and 66% of the population (between 1.8 and 3.1m people).

Looking at what is defined as rural in the three Regional Assembly Areas, which are important policy regions in the NPF and forthcoming Regional Spatial and Economic Strategies (to be developed by the Regional Assemblies) there is a clear contrast among the regions.

Figure 2: Percentage of the population living in rural areas according to definition for three Regional Assembly Areas

Source: CSO Census of Population 2016,  Profile 2 – Population Distribution and Movements / E2014 own calculations

The NWRA is the most rural, with at least two thirds of its population classified as rural in the narrowest definition.  The EMRA, even using the broadest definition, has less than half its population defined as rural.

Rural Policy or Policy for Rural People?

Given the rural population numbers, whichever definition is used, most policy affecting the Western Region is  rural policy as it impacts on the majority of the population.  Even policy which focuses more on Galway and the larger towns has important effects on rural people as these are centres of employment, enterprise education and health services.

The question becomes whether policy for a rural region is rural policy or, given that more than half population is living in rural areas, are not the needs of a rural region integral to all policy, including that for enterprise, employment, healthcare or transport?  Does labelling large parts of the country as rural and expecting their needs to be covered by a ‘rural policy’ serve those dwelling in rural areas well?  Does it ensure infrastructure provision takes account of our settlement pattern as it is, rather than as we think it should be?  Or, if we treat rural as different and needing separate policy rather than as an integral part of our policy focus, can we ensure that businesses can operate efficiently throughout the country, or that people can find varied employment in different places?  These are not narrow issues of rural policy but involve addressing the needs of the wider population through all government policy

Clearly areas which are very peripheral and which have small populations have particular policy requirements but most people in rural areas, however they are defined, have the same needs for employment, healthcare, education and transport as the rest of the population.  It is therefore not only important to consider how we define rural but why we are doing so, and how these definitions can be used to ensure people throughout the Region and the country have their needs addressed equally.

 

Helen McHenry

 

[1] The OECD methodology classifies local administrative units level 2 with a population density below 150 inhabitants per km² as rural.  For more information on the definition see http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Urban-rural_typology

[2] These catchments are not mapped in the draft NPF and it is not clear how much of the country is considered to be within the influence of a city.

Employment by Sector in the Western Region & its counties

The Western Development Commission today (6 Sept) published two new WDC Insights publications:

Both are based on an analysis of data from Census 2016 on employment by economic sector (industrial group).  The first looks at the sectoral pattern of employment in the Western Region as a whole compared with that elsewhere in the country, while the second focuses on the sectoral profile of employment in each of the seven individual counties in the Western Region.

Some of the main findings are:

  • Total employment in the Western Region grew by 7.5% between 2011 and 2016; substantially less than the 11.8% growth experienced by the rest of the state.
  • Five of the six counties in the country with the lowest employment growth are located in the Western Region.  Sligo had the smallest employment growth nationally.
  • The region had stronger employment growth than elsewhere in four sectors (Industry, Health, Transport & Storage and Other Services) but performed less well in the other ten sectors with declining employment in Financial services, Public Administration, Agriculture and Wholesale & Retail.
  • The Western Region and its counties tend to rely more on traditional sectors, public services and some local services while it has far lower shares working in knowledge intensive services, though these are growing in the region with the exception of Financial.
  • Public Services (Health, Education and Public Admin) is the largest area of employment in all western counties with Sligo, Leitrim, Roscommon and Donegal having the highest shares working in Public Services nationally.
  • Industry was the best performing sector in four of the seven western counties (Leitrim, Galway, Roscommon and Mayo). Knowledge services grew strongly in Donegal with Administrative & Other Services the best performing in Clare and Sligo.  Agriculture was the poorest performer in all counties but Sligo.

Both publications can be downloaded here

Get Detailed Census Data for Settlements

On 20 July the CSO released the Small Area Population Statistics (SAPs) from Census 2016. This is Census data at its most detailed geographic level; data across all demographic and socio-economic themes is available at spatial scales down to Small Areas.  There are 18,641 Small Areas across the Republic of Ireland, each generally comprising between 80 and 120 dwellings.  The Small Area data is of huge value for mapping and detailed GIS analysis, such as that carried out by AIRO.

Settlements 

For many data users however, Small Area scale is too detailed.  Data at other spatial scales was also released with the SAPs, including Gaeltacht areas, Municipal Districts (95) and Settlements (846). Data for Settlements is a hugely useful resource and is also the spatial scale that many people feel most attached to, and indeed curious about.

It is an important resource for many stakeholders, including local authorities, community and voluntary groups, local development agencies, chambers, policy makers and others. But how to access the data may not be a very well-known, as it is separate to the Statbank system where all other Census data can be downloaded.

Downloading Census 2016 Settlement Reports 

Step 1: Go to SapMap

Step 2: Click ‘Find Your Area’ (icon that looks like a blue thumbtack)

Step 3: Choose ‘Settlements’ from dropdown and type in name of settlement e.g. Gort, Swords.

Step 4: Map will zoom to show outline of the ‘Settlement’ boundary and the key population data. Click ‘For more information on Small Area Population Statistics 2016 click here’.

Step 5: You will get a detailed data report for that Settlement that you can download as a PDF file or an Excel Spreadsheet. You can download a full report of all data or individual reports for each data theme. Data on the following themes is available.

  • Theme 1: Sex, Age and Marital Status
  • Theme 2: Migration, Ethnicity, Religion and Foreign Languages
  • Theme 3: Irish Language
  • Theme 4: Families
  • Theme 5: Private Households
  • Theme 6: Housing
  • Theme 7: Communal Establishments
  • Theme 8: Principal Status
  • Theme 9: Social Class and Socio-Economic Group
  • Theme 10: Education
  • Theme 11: Commuting
  • Theme 12: Disability, Carers and General Health
  • Theme 13: Occupations
  • Theme 14: Industries
  • Theme 15: Motor Car Availability, PC Ownership and Internet Access

The same process can be followed to download data for different spatial scales e.g. counties, constituencies, Municipal Districts. At Step 3, simply select the scale you want from the dropdown and type in name.

It should be noted that while this data is also available for 2011, as the settlement boundaries can change between censuses direct comparisons are not always possible.

This is a link to the CSO’s SAPMAP User Guide.

An Example: Mohill, Co Leitrim

Mohill is a village situated in north county Leitrim.  Fig. 1 shows the initial SAPMAP image for Mohill. The settlement has a total population of 855 with 521 housing units.

Fig.1: Image from SAPMAP of Mohill settlement. Source:

By clicking ‘For more information on Small Area Population Statistics 2016 click here’ you are directed to a more detailed report. Fig. 2 shows part of this. At the top you can choose to download the PDF or Excel.  Scrolling down the page shows all the data for each of the 15 themes, with the option to download each table in PDF or Excel.

Fig.2: Image of top of page for detailed Mohill Settlement report. Source: http://census.cso.ie/sapmap/

For example Theme 8: Principal Economic Status shows there were 282 people resident in Mohill who were employed at the time of the Census, 185 who were retired and 51 students.

Fig.3: Theme 8, Principal Economic Status for Mohill. Source: http://census.cso.ie/sapmap/

All data can be downloaded in Excel to allow analysis. For example, Fig. 4 shows the percentage of families in Mohill who are in each stage of the ‘Family Cycle’ with 20.3% of families consisting of adults only who do not fall into other categories, 15.6% being ‘empty nest’ and 14.6% being retired households.

Fig.4: Percentage of families in each stage of family cycle, Mohill, 2016. Source: http://census.cso.ie/sapmap/

The Settlements reports from the SAPMAP system are a very useful resource, particularly for local voluntary and community groups and others involved in planning and promoting development in town and village level.

 

Pauline White

 

 

 

Self-employment – What does the Census tell us?

Regular followers of the WDC Insights blog will know that self-employment is a topic we’ve examined a number of times before, drawing on Quarterly National Household Survey data.  However this can only tell us what is happening in the Western Region as a whole, not in the individual counties.

The publication of Census 2016 – Summary Results Part 2, included some initial data on labour force status including self-employment. Again, as mentioned in our previous post on Principal Economic Status, it must be remembered that the labour market definitions used in the QNHS and in the Census are different, so the figures are not directly comparable.  In the Census, self-employed are referred to as ‘Employer or own account worker’.

Share of self-employed in workforce 

In 2016, according to the Census, there were 61,107 employers or own account workers (self-employed) living in the Western Region. This was 18.3% of all working people in the region. As we’ve mentioned before, self-employment is a particularly important source of employment in the Western Region.

From Fig. 1 it is clear that there is a very strong spatial pattern to self-employment. The State average is that 15.6% of those in employment are employers/own account workers.  The cities are where this is least common. Only 10% or less of workers in Cork and Dublin cities are self-employed. Galway city is next lowest at 11.1% and shows a very different pattern to the rest of the Western Region.

Besides these three cities, it is the other Dublin local authority areas, counties in the Greater Dublin Area and the other two cities (Limerick and Waterford) which have the lowest incidence of self-employment. Indeed the 11 areas with the lowest share of self-employment are the five cities and the Mid-East.

Fig. 1: Percentage of all ‘at work’ who are employer/own account worker by county, 2016. Source: CSO, Census of Population 2016 – Summary Results Part 2, Table EZ003: http://www.cso.ie/px/pxeirestat/Statire/SelectVarVal/Define.asp?maintable=EZ003&PLanguage=0

 

At the other end of the spectrum are the most rural counties. Co Kerry has the highest share of self-employment nationally at 21.1%, followed by Leitrim (20.3%), Cavan (19.9%) and Roscommon (19.9%).  In total, five of the Western Region counties are in the top  ten in terms of share of self-employment, with Mayo (19.6%), Galway county (19.5%) and Clare (19.5%) also having almost 1 in 5 of their workers self-employed.

The strong spatial pattern of self-employment in Ireland is related to many factors but notably the sectoral and occupational pattern of employment. Agriculture is a major influence, with construction trades also having high shares of self-employed. These sectors play a more significant role in the economies of rural counties. The relative lack of alternative employment opportunities, especially in the more remote rural areas, means that more people choose (or are necessitated) to turn to the self-employment route.  The WDC will be conducting further analysis of the sectoral and occupational data from the Census and its link with employment status, over the coming months.

Change in the share self-employed

In every county in Ireland, a smaller share of the workforce was self-employed in 2016 compared with five years earlier.  The national average declined from 16.9% of workers to 15.6%, with a decline from 19.9% to 18.3% in the Western Region (Fig. 2).

Leitrim, Galway county, Roscommon, Mayo and Clare all had shares above 20% in 2011, with only Leitrim remaining over 20% by 2016.  Among the western counties, Sligo had the smallest change in the share self-employed, declining from 18.2% down to 18%. From Fig. 2 it is also clear how strongly Galway city differs from the rest of the region.

 

Fig. 2: Percentage of all ‘at work’ who are employer/own account worker in western counties, Western Region, State and Rest of State, 2011 and 2016. Source: CSO, Census of Population 2016 – Summary Results Part 2, Table EZ003: http://www.cso.ie/px/pxeirestat/Statire/SelectVarVal/Define.asp?maintable=EZ003&PLanguage=0

 

One of the key reasons for the declining share of self-employment in the inter-censal period is the recovery in the jobs market.  During the depth of the recession 2008-2011 employment declined hugely.  Self-employment was not quite as impacted as some people who lost their job turned to self-employment, existing employers and own account workers may have been able to sustain their own jobs while having to let to employees, and there was the continuation of the trend of some jobs becoming contract/self-employment that would previously have been employees. Therefore as overall job numbers fell, the relative importance of self-employment as a share of total employment remained strong. As the jobs recovery began from 2012 and more employment opportunities emerged, the relative importance of self-employment declined.

Change in numbers self-employed

From Fig. 3 it is clear that between 2011 and 2016 the number of employees grew far more strongly than the number of self-employed. Nationally the number of employees in 2016 was 12.9% higher than in 2011, whereas the number of self-employed was only 2.3% higher.  In the Western Region the number of self-employed actually declined in this period, down -1% while the number of employees grew by 9.8%.  It is notable that for both forms of employment, the Western Region’s performance was weaker than the State average and the Rest of State.  The decline in the numbers self-employed in the region is of some concern given its continuing greater significance in the labour market, especially in more rural counties (see Fig. 1 above).

 

Fig. 3: Percentage change in number of employer/own account workers in western counties, Western Region, State and Rest of State, 2011-2016. Source: CSO, Census of Population 2016 – Summary Results Part 2, Table EZ003: http://www.cso.ie/px/pxeirestat/Statire/SelectVarVal/Define.asp?maintable=EZ003&PLanguage=0

 

Across the region, Mayo, Galway county, Roscommon and Leitrim, the four counties where self-employment continues to play the largest role in their labour market (see Fig. 1) and the most rural, experienced declines in the actual number of people self-employed between 2011-2016.  All other western counties had some growth in the numbers self-employed with the strongest growth in Galway City (2.8%), which nevertheless continues to have a low share of self-employed.

In all cases the growth in self-employment was always substantially less than the growth in the number of employees.  The main exception to this was Sligo, which had very low growth in employees at only 2.6%. Indeed Sligo had the lowest growth in employee numbers in the State in this period.

Conclusion 

While the relative importance of self-employment within the labour market declined between 2011-2016, largely due to the strengthening jobs market, it remains a very significant form of employment. In the five most rural western counties of Leitrim, Roscommon, Mayo, Galway county Clare, 1 in 5 of those at work, work for themselves.  Nationally there is a very strong spatial pattern of higher rates of self-employment in rural counties, with the lowest shares in the cities and Mid-East.

Some of the region’s most rural counties experienced a decline in the numbers self-employed between 2011 and 2016, the underlying reasons for this will only be apparent when the sectoral and occupational pattern of employment change in these counties is explored.

 

 

Pauline White

 

 

 

Regional Towns: Growth or decline? Can we tell?

Population change is an important issue and one of the key reasons that we conduct a census in Ireland.  However, as well as being one of the most important indicators of change, it is also an emotive issue.  Population growth in most cases is considered a good thing, an indicator of a vibrant economy and society, while population decline is taken to indicate stagnation and under development.  This is particularly the case in relation to well known, well defined areas such as counties or, in the case of this post, of towns.

Important strategic policies such as the National Planning Framework (NPF)  and the (RSES)  are currently being prepared, and these (along with policies such as Realising our Rural Potential- An Action Plan for Rural Development   have long time horizons and rely on population data as an important benchmark of development.  Therefore robust intercensal comparisons are critical.

Population data from Census 2016 for towns was made available with the publication of Profile 2- Population Distribution and Movements on 11 May.  In its initial release on StatBank[1], tables of town populations for 2011 and 2016 were provided.  In the background notes (Appendix 2) to Profile 2 the CSO noted that there had been boundary changes to 80 towns for which populations were given.  However, the towns were not named, listed or highlighted in the original data available on StatBank and data on town population was provided for all towns for 2011 and 2016.

It has now become apparent that the 2011 data that was originally provided related to the old boundaries and so the 2011 population was not directly comparable to that in 2016. This has been amended (Tables E2014 and E2016 amended on 9.06.17) and different tables are now provided in StatBank.  The 2011 data is no longer provided for the towns which have had boundary changes.  This will prevent inaccurate comparisons and also means that they can now be identified by users.

The change means that people downloading the data now will not make a direct comparison with 2011 for those towns, but for many of us who looked at the data just after its release the comparisons had already been made, commented on or published.

The number of boundary changes was very significant. In the table of 200 towns with population of more than 1,500, 71 had boundary changes.  Of the 41 towns in the Western Region with population of more than 1,500, 15 towns had had boundary changes making comparison with 2011 population data invalid.  The most notable of these is Ballina for which original published data showed a decline of 915 people (-8.25%).  This led to discussion and investigation by regional newspapers[2].

All of the five towns[3] in the Western Region with a population of more than 10,000 have been affected by boundary changes (each of these showed falls in population ranging from  -8.25% to -0.33%).  The extent to which the boundary change is responsible for the population change is unclear.  The CSO does note that in many cases the physical area of the town was reduced:

Census towns which previously combined legal towns and their environs have been newly defined using the standard census town criteria (with the 100 metres proximity rule). For some towns the impact of this has been to lose area and population, compared with previous computations.[4]

Among the seven towns[5] in the Western Region with population between 5,000 and 10,000 six had had boundary changes (the exception being Roscommon).  The population change in these towns, compared to the 2011 figure based on the old boundaries, varied from -0.79% (Buncrana) to +9.76% (Loughrea).  It is hard to assess the extent to which the population change between 2016 and 2011 is reflective of boundary changes or other factors.

So we are now in the situation where we know which towns have had boundaries changes (unlike the situation when Profile 2 was initially released), but we don’t know the extent of the boundary changes and how much they influenced the towns’ Census populations.

It would be very useful if the CSO could provide revised 2011 figures for those towns with boundary changes.  This would allow for direct comparison with 2011 and show clearly whether a town’s population grew or declined.  It would also provide clarity about the effect of the boundary change on the town population.

When the Small Area Statistics (SAPS) are published (20 July 2017) there will be greater detail on local population changes and it may be possible to be clear about where towns have grown and declined and the magnitude of the actual population changes (as compared to those population changes resulting from boundary changes).

Conclusion

It is important that where there are significant alterations to boundaries used or where methods change between Censuses they are very clearly highlighted in any tables published, especially when they relate to headline figures such as population change or population density.  This would mean that a user would not be led to assume that, because the data has been published alongside older data by the Central Statistics Office, it is comparable.

This might seem to be an issue only of concern to those who enjoy analysing data.  It is not.  Changes to town populations can have very significant implications for resource allocations both at a Local Authority level, regionally and nationally.

Would the NPF be more likely to focus on the development of a town that appears to be thriving and showing population growth or one which seems to have stagnated or declined?

Similarly those looking to invest in services and infrastructure, either public (e.g. broadband, education or healthcare) or private (e.g. cinemas, leisure), may think twice if a town seems to be in decline.

Indicators other than population change are used in decision making, but population is still one of the most important.  It is therefore essential that we have good reliable data, for which any changes in methods or boundaries have been very clearly highlighted[6]….

 

Helen McHenry

 

[1] StatBank is one of the CSO’s databases and its main data dissemination service.

[2] See Mayo News,  16 May 2017, http://www.mayonews.ie/news/30029-cso-confirm-ballina-s-population-and-increased-not-deceased and also Western People, 29 May 2016, ‘Misleading Census data’

[3] Ennis, Letterkenny, Sligo, Castlebar and Ballina.

[4] In addition 26 new census towns were created for the 2016 Census.

[5] Shannon, Tuam, Buncrana, Ballinasloe, Westport, Roscommon and Loughrea.

[6] …and not just in the small print or footnote which may fall off the bottom of a page…..

Census 2016: Principal Economic Status in the Western Region

The CSO has just issued the second set of summary results from Census 2016.  ‘Census 2016 Summary Results – Part 2’ gives initial results of some of the socio-economic indicators from Census 2016. More detailed results for each theme will be released in ‘Profiles’ between now and December.

The summary results include data on:

  • Principal Economic Status
  • Employment by sector, occupation and nationality
  • Socio-economic groups and social class
  • Education
  • Travel patterns
  • Health, disability and caring

This initial blog post will examine the Principal Economic Status results and other themes will be analysed in future posts.

What is Principal Economic Status?

Principal Economic Status (PES) measures the economic status e.g. at work, retired, student etc. of the entire population aged 15 years and over.  It is a self-assigned measure in that the person selects the category they believe applies to them. It differs from the ILO definition that is used in the Quarterly National Household Survey (QNHS) and the official employment figures. This difference mainly impacts on the numbers counted as in employment – for the ILO definition, if a person has worked for payment or profit for 1 hour or more in the previous fortnight they are counted as employed. This will result in a higher number being counted as employed than when people are asked to give their own status as in the PES question in the Census.  Therefore the PES data from the Census will not match the official employment statistics for that period. For more see the Appendices to the report.

PES in the Western Region 2016

In the Western Region in 2016 there 653,749 persons aged over 15 years.  Fig. 1 shows their economic status.

Fig. 1: Principal Economic Status of all persons aged 15 years and over in the Western Region, 2016. Source: CSO, 2017, Census 2016 Summary Results – Part 2, Table EZ002 http://www.cso.ie/px/pxeirestat/Statire/SelectVarVal/Define.asp?maintable=EZ002&PLanguage=0

Change in economic status in the Western Region 2011-2016

Just over half (51.1%) the region’s adult population stated that they were ‘at work’ (employed or self-employed) (Fig. 2). This was an increase from 2011 when 48.2% of the region’s adult population was working. Since 2011 there has been a notable decline in the share of the population unemployed (having lost or given up a job) from 11.2% down to 7.4%.

The other category showing considerable change is the number who are retired, rising from 14% up to 16.6%. This is in line with a national trend of an increasing number of retired people, partly driven by rising life expectancy, recent early retirement schemes in the public sector and also the fact that the historical trend of rising female labour force participation is now leading to increasing numbers of women in retirement. Women who are engaged in home duties tend to continue to report themselves as such, even into their older years, whereas women who have participated in the labour force would report themselves as retired when they retire from paid employment. The downward trend in the number of people engaged in home duties continued in this Census, declining from 9.4% to 8% in the region.

There was a slight decline in the share of the population unable to work due to illness or disability (4.6% to 4.4%), while the share of the population (15+ yrs) who are students was exactly the same in 2016 as in 2011, though of course the actual number of students would have changed (it increased by 1.5%).

Fig. 2: Percentage of all persons aged 15 years and over by Principal Economic Status in the Western Region, 2011 and 2016. Source: CSO, 2017, Census 2016 Summary Results – Part 2, Table EZ002 http://www.cso.ie/px/pxeirestat/Statire/SelectVarVal/Define.asp?maintable=EZ002&PLanguage=0

Economic Status in the Western Region by gender

The PES composition of the adult male and female population in the Western Region is shown in Fig. 3.  One of the most notable gender differences is in the share of males and females who are ‘at work’, 55.3% compared with 47%. The trend in the share of women at work has been increasing over time due to rising female labour force participation, however there continues to be a lower share of adult women at work.  Between 2011 and 2016 the number of males at work in the Western Region increased by 8.4% while the number of females only rose by 6.5%. Though it must be taken into account that the decline in the number of males at work during the previous intercensal period was far higher. There is a lower share of women who are unemployed, both having lost a job (5.9% v 9%) and first time jobseekers (0.7% v 0.9%).

As noted above, the ongoing increase in female labour force participation has led to a rising share of women who are retired. The share of all women who are retired (16.1%) is now closer to men (17.1%). Since 2011 there has been a 16.9% increase in the number of retired men in the Western Region but a 23.3% increase in the number of retired women, both increases are quite close to what happened nationally over that period.

Fig. 3: Percentage of males and females aged 15 years and over by Principal Economic Status in the Western Region, 2016. Source: CSO, 2017, Census 2016 Summary Results – Part 2, Table EZ002 http://www.cso.ie/px/pxeirestat/Statire/SelectVarVal/Define.asp?maintable=EZ002&PLanguage=0

The biggest gender difference continues to be in the category ‘Looking after home/family’ with 14.3% of women compared with 1.4% of men with this status.  The ongoing decline in the share of women engaged in home duties continued in this period with a 15.1% decline in the Western Region since 2011, higher than the 11.5% decline that occurred nationally.  There was some growth in the share of men who are on home duties, up 3.3% in the region, though this is considerably less than the 15% growth experienced nationally.  Even though the region had lower growth, the share of men engaged on home duties in the region (1.4%) is greater than in the State (1.0%)

Economic status in the Western Region compared with State

Comparing the PES of the adult population of the Western Region with the State average (Fig. 4), the main difference is in the share ‘at work’. At 53.4%, the State is higher than the Western Region (51.1%).  The other category where there is a notable difference is retired. In the region, 16.6% of adults are retired, compared with 14.5% in the State. This would be linked to the region’s older age profile. The region also has a slightly higher share of its population unemployed having lost/given up a job and those unable to work due to illness/disability.

Fig. 4: Percentage of all persons aged 15 years and over by Principal Economic Status in the Western Region and State, 2016. Source: CSO, 2017, Census 2016 Summary Results – Part 2, Table EZ002 http://www.cso.ie/px/pxeirestat/Statire/SelectVarVal/Define.asp?maintable=EZ002&PLanguage=0

Economic status in different area types

Details on the economic status of the population by town size is also available. The detailed information for individual towns will be released in future Profiles, but the Summary Results provide details for the five cities (with their suburbs), and then various town size categories and rural areas.

From Table 1 it can be seen that Dublin city and suburbs has the highest share of its population at work (56.1%) while Limerick city has the lowest (47.2%).  Among the five cities, Galway has the second highest share (53.5%).

There is a general pattern that the share of the population at work declines from the larger towns of 10,000+ (53.1%) down to the smaller towns, and then villages (49.4%). It must of course be remembered that these size categories would include towns within the hinterlands of the cities which function as commuter towns. The open countryside (beyond areas of 50 inhabited houses) has a high share of its population at work. This is likely linked to both farming and commuters living in rural houses.

Table 1: Percentage of all persons aged 15 years and over by Principal Economic Status by town size, 2016. Source: CSO, 2017, Census 2016 Summary Results – Part 2, Table EZ014 http://www.cso.ie/px/pxeirestat/Statire/SelectVarVal/Define.asp?maintable=EZ014&PLanguage=0

In terms of unemployment, Cork, Dublin and Galway have the smallest shares of their population unemployed (having lost/left a job), at under 7%, compared with 10% in Waterford. Among towns, the share who are unemployed generally increases as town size declines, though villages and open countryside have lower shares unemployed. This is partly explained by the higher share of retired people. Towns of 1,000-1,499, followed by villages and open countryside, have the highest shares of their population retired at over 16%.

Galway on the other hand has the lowest share of retired among its population (12.2%).  This is mirrored by Galway also having the highest share of students (17.1%), which strongly shows the influence of both NUIG and GMIT on the city. Limerick and Cork have the next highest shares of students again highlighting the importance of their higher education institutions.  The category of towns of 10,000+ would include those which have an Institute of Technology e.g. Sligo, Dundalk, so it does show a higher share than smaller towns but still considerably less than in the cities. When the details for individual towns are released it will be easier to see the impact of individual IoTs.

The share of the population looking after home/family has a quite strong pattern, increasing steadily as town size declines from 10,000+ (8.3%) to open countryside (9.3%).  The share in all cities is below 7.5% and in Galway, again reflecting its young age profile, the share is only 5.5%.  A quite similar pattern can be seen for those unable to work due to illness or disability, which generally increases as town size declines though falls again for villages and open countryside, where it is particularly low. This may be linked to accessibility issues as those with a disability and their families may choose to live in a town or city for easier access to services. The highest rate in the country is in Limerick city, with Galway having the lowest.

Conclusion

This initial look at the PES data from Census 2016 confirms the general trend of improving labour market conditions, with an increase in the share of the adult population who are working and a fall in unemployment.  Increasing life expectancy and the consequence of increasing female labour force participation has also led to a strong growth in the retired population, a trend with clear policy implications.  While there continue to be significant gender differences in terms of economic status, the difference is reducing, though a substantially higher share of women than men are still engaged in home duties.

Compared with the national picture, the region has a lower share at work and higher share who are retired, partly linked to the region’s age profile and weaker labour market.  Future blog posts will examine in detail the Census data on the region’s labour market (labour force participation, employment, industries, occupations and unemployment), to examine what has occurred within the ‘at work’ and ‘unemployed’ groups.

Pauline White

Census 2016: Profiling Age and Dependency

The most recent release from Census 2016 Profile 2 – Population Distribution and Movements contains data on the age categories of the population by county.  Different age groups have different needs and opportunities so this information is important for planning services for the future and understanding social and economic development issues for our region.

Population in key age categories

The key age categories for analysis are shown in Figure 1 for the Western Region, the Rest of State[1] and for the EU28 (in 2015) along with the projected age structure for the EU 28 in 2080.

The Western Region has 21.1% of its population in the 0-14 age group (the same as the Rest of State), while 15.6% of the EU28 population is in that age category.  The county with highest share of young people in its total population in 2016 was Donegal (22.0%) while the lowest were Mayo and Sligo (20.3%).

 

Figure 1: Population Structure by Age Group

Source:  CSO, 2017, Profile 2 – Population Distribution and Movements  E2022  and Eurostat (demo_pjangroup) and (proj_13npms)

 

The category ‘15-64 years’ covers most of the economically active population.  In the Western Region the Galway has the largest proportion in this category (65.6%) but this is still lower than the average for the Rest of State (65.9%).  Leitrim has the lowest proportion in this age category (61.5%).

There is significant variation among counties in the proportion of the population over 65 years, but all counties have more people in this category (between 13.6% in Galway and 17.5% in Mayo) than the Rest of State (13.0%).  Counties, including those such as Mayo, Roscommon and Leitrim which we consider to have high concentrations of older people, have fewer in the older age categories than the EU 28 (18.9%) which is turn is much less than that projected for the EU 28 (28.7%) by 2080.

Population Pyramids

The population pyramid below (Figure 2) shows the age distribution for the Western Region and the Rest of State in more detail.  A peak of births in 1980 shows up in the 35-39 age category, and another peak in the number of births occurred in 2009[2] and shows up in the 5-9 age category.  The smaller numbers in both the 20-24 age category relates to a falling birth rate in that period while the lower number in the 25-29 age categories, and to some extent in the 30-34 are the result of high outward migration.  The difference in proportions in these age categories for the Western Region and Rest of State indicate greater out migration from the Western Region.

 

Figure 2: Population Pyramind for Western Region and Rest of State, 2016

Source:  CSO, 2017, Profile 2 – Population Distribution and Movements  E2022

 

The Western Region has a higher proportion of it population than the Rest of State in each of the age categories from 45 years and upwards for females and 40 years and upwards for males.  This is also the case for the 10-14 and 15-19 years categories but the more recent higher birth rate in other more rapidly growing counties (especially those surrounding Dublin) means there is a higher proportion of young children in the population in the Rest of State than the Western Region, but these differences are relatively small at the moment.

Dependency ratios

The Dependency ratio (Figure 3) shows the number of older and younger people compared to the working age population (which for this statistic is considered to be 15-64) as these are potentially the most economically active.  In reality many in the 15-19 and 20-24 categories will be in education but it is a useful statistic for comparison purposes.

It is also important to be aware of the differences in population structure among regions and counties when examining economic statistics such as those for income and output.  Counties a lower percentage in the economically active age groups have proportionally more dependents.  They will tend to have lower per capita income and output levels even where there is no difference in productivity.

Mayo has the highest old age dependency ratio (28.3%) in the country,  followed by Leitrim (27.4%) and Roscommon (26.8%) while the lowest nationally is in Kildare (15%).  Galway (20.6%) and Clare (23.4%) have the lowest age dependency ratios in the Region but all Western Region counties have a higher age dependency than that for the Rest of State (19.7%).

 

Figure 3: Old Age, Youth and combined Dependency Ratios, 2016

Source:  CSO, 2017, Profile 2 – Population Distribution and Movements  E2022, own calculations

 

The highest youth dependency ratio in the Region is in Donegal (35.3%) and Leitrim (35.1%) but other counties with particularly high birth rates have much higher youth dependency ratios (in Meath it is 39%, Laois 38.3% and Longford 37.2%).  In the Western Region the lowest is in Galway (31.8%) and Sligo (32.0%).  The Western Region as a whole has a youth dependency ratio of 33.2% compared to 32.1% in the Rest of State.

Combining the youth and old age figures gives an overall dependency figure which gives the proportion of both older and younger people compared to the working age population.  In the Western Region this was 57.4% while in the Rest of the State it was 51.8%.  This compared to a figure of 52.6% in the EU 28 in 2015.

The Oldest People

Some of the most significant change is population structure is occurring among the ‘older old’, those in the 80+ years category, with increased longevity and ageing of the older population.  In Roscommon 4.4% of the population is already in this older age category, while Leitrim (4.27%) and Mayo (4.24%) are the next highest in the state. In contrast, in Kildare only 1.91% are in this category while in Meath it is 2.21%.  Some 3.7% of the WR population is over 80 (3.0% in the Rest of State).  It is expected that by 2080 in the EU28 12.3% of the population will be over 80, which compares to 5.3% in the EU28 in 2015.

The percentage in the 80+ years category is rising in all counties and, while increased longevity is a significant human achievement, it can have important implications.  Those in this age group can experience more poverty and social isolation and poorer health that the ‘younger old’[3].  There is also a significant gender dimension with women having higher survivorship and a lower propensity to re-marry which means they are more likely to live alone.  It is important to respond to, and plan for, the needs of this age category and to endeavour to ensure that as many years as possible are lived with as good health and quality of life as possible.

Conclusions

A higher proportion of the Western Region population is in the older and younger age categories than in the Rest of State, in part reflecting the outward migration of those of working age.  It highlights the importance of a focus on regional employment provision as a key element of regional development policies.  Improving employment prospects would benefit those currently in the youth dependent category, as well as those who are already economically active.

The higher proportion of older people in many Western Region counties means that services for older people are crucial.  As much of the Region is very rural we should continue to learn from best practice elsewhere, particularly in Europe, where the ageing of the population is taking place earlier, on how to provide supports and services to an older population in rural areas.

While much of the thinking about ageing populations is on services and supports it should also be remembered that many people in this age category are likely to continue in employment and so this group would also benefit from improved employment opportunities.  Currently, 4.5% of the Western Region labour force is over 65[4], while 13% of those in the 65+ category are in the labour force.  This compares to 2.8% of the rest of State labour force over 65 and a 10% participation rate for that age category.

Understanding trends in population and examining the detail for the seven Western Region counties helps us better understand the economy and society of the Region.  We will continue to provide analysis of the issues as more results are released from the 2016 Census of Population.

 

 

Helen McHenry

 

[1] Rest of State refers to the 19 counties which are not in the Western Region and is used for comparison rather than using a State figures which also include the Western Region.

[2]http://www.cso.ie/en/media/csoie/releasespublications/documents/population/2017/Chapter_3_Age_and_sex_composition.pdf

[3] Ingham, B., Chirijevskis, A. & Carmichael, F. Pensions Int J (2009) 14: 221.’ Implications of an increasing old-age dependency ratio: The UK and Latvian experiences compared’ doi:10.1057/pm.2009.16 https://link.springer.com/article/10.1057%2Fpm.2009.16

[4] CSO, Quarterly National Household Survey Quarter 1 2016- Special run for the Western Region.  See here for more detail https://www.wdc.ie/wp-content/uploads/WDC-Insights-Presentation-DSP-30.01.2017-final.pdf

Census 2016: Rurality, Population Density and the Urban Population of the Western Region

Detailed population figures from the Census of Population were published last week in Profile 2 – Population Distribution and Movements  which looked at population density, rural and urban populations and the population in towns.

Rural and Urban Population

In Ireland as a whole just over a third (37%) of the population live in rural areas (that is outside towns of 1,500).  In contrast, in the Western Region shows the opposite pattern and 65% live in rural areas (Figure 1).  This is a marginal decline on 2011 (when it was 66%).

The rural population of the seven counties varies from almost 90% in Leitrim (where there is only one ‘urban centre- over 1,500) to 54% in Galway which of course includes the largest settlement.  After Leitrim, Roscommon, Donegal and Mayo are the most rural of the Western Region counties.  Sligo and Clare, along with Galway are slightly less rural.  It should be noted that Galway county (i.e. excluding the city) is one of the most rural with almost 78% of the population living in rural areas.

Figure 1: Percentage of Population living in rural areas in the Western Region and State.

Source: CSO Census 2016 Profile 2 E2008: Population Percentage in the Aggregate Town Areas and Aggregate Rural Areas

 

Each county, and the Western Region itself (64.7%), has a significantly higher proportion of people living in rural areas than for the State as a whole (37%).

Population Density

Density is another key indicator of rurality and it certainly is important in considering the provision of services.  In Ireland as a whole the population density is 70 people per square kilometre and in the more rural Western Region it is almost 32 people per km2 .  Again there is considerable variation by county and as can be seen in Figure 2 below, this largely mirrors the rurality of each of the seven counties.

Figure 2: Population Density in the Western Region and State (persons per sq km)

Source: CSO Census 2016 Profile 2 E2013: Population Density and Area Size 2011 to 2016

 

Galway has the highest population density (42 people per square km) and Leitrim has the lowest with just over 20 people per square kilometre.

Population in Towns

The population of towns across is also included in this Profile and looking at towns across the region the weak urban structure of the region is evident.

Galway is the significant city, with a population of 79,934 in 2016.  Only five towns have a population of more than 10,000 people (Table 1), and all of these had population declines between 2011 and 2016 though, with the exception of Ballina these were small.  Ennis, the largest settlement after Galway is less than a third of its size (25,276 people), and it had a slight population decline (-0.3%) while Letterkenny (19,274) and Sligo (19,199) also had population decreases (1.6% and 1.3%).  The population of Castlebar (12,068) fell by 2% but that in Ballina (10,171) fell by a more significant 8.3%.

Table 1: Population of Towns larger than 10,000 in the Western Region

2011 – Population (Number) 2016 – Population (Number) Actual change since previous census (Number) Percentage change since previous census (%)
Galway City and Suburbs, Galway 76,778 79,934 3,156 4.1
Ennis*, Clare 25,360 25,276 84 -0.3
Letterkenny*, Donegal 19,588 19,274 314 -1.6
Sligo*, Sligo 19,452 19,199 253 -1.3
Castlebar*, Mayo 12,318 12,068 250 -2
Ballina*, Mayo 11,086 10,171 915 -8.3
*Boundaries used for these Census towns have been changed since 2011 so the populations between 2011 and 2016 are not directly comparable.  See this post for more discussion.

Source: CSO Census 2016 Profile 2 E2016: Population and Actual and Percentage Change 2011 to 2016 by Alphabetical List of Towns

 

There are a further seven towns with a population of more than 5,000 (Table 2) giving a total of 13 towns including Galway in that size category (5,000-9,999) in the Western Region.  All of the towns in this category grew with the exception of Buncrana (-0.8%) and Ballinasloe which had no change.  The largest growth was in Loughrea (9.8%) which, along with Tuam, serves as a residential location for people working in Galway.

Table 2: Population of Towns 5,000-9,999 in the Western Region

2011 – Population (Number) 2016 – Population (Number) Actual change since previous census (Number) Percentage change since previous census (%)
Shannon*, Clare             9,673            9,729 56 0.6
Tuam*, Galway             8,242            8,767 525 6.4
Buncrana*, Donegal             6,839            6,785 – 54 -0.8
Ballinasloe*, Galway             6,659           6,662     3 0
Westport*, Mayo             6,063            6,198   135 2.2
Roscommon, Roscommon             5,693            5,876  183 3.2
Loughrea*, Galway             5,062            5,556 494 9.8
*Boundaries used for these Census towns have been changed since 2011 so the populations between 2011 and 2016 are not directly comparable.  See this post for more discussion.

Source: CSO Census 2016 Profile 2 E2016: Population and Actual and Percentage Change 2011 to 2016 by Alphabetical List of Towns

 

There are a further 27 towns in the Western Region with a population of more than 1,500 and which are therefore categorised as urban.  Athenry (12.5%), Gort (13.2%), Tubbercurry (13.7%) and Collooney (17.6%) showed the strongest growth, while Clifden showed a very significant population decline (-22.3%) partially associated with the closure of a Direct Provision Accommodation Centre in 2012.

Table 3 below shows the urban structure of the region.  165,922 people (58% of the region’s urban population of 283,873) live in towns of more than 10,000, and a further 49,573 people (17%) in towns of more than 5,000.  A significant population lives in the smallest towns 68,378 (24%)

Table 3: Urban Structure of the Western Region

2011 2016 Actual change (2011-2016) Percentage change (2011-2016)
Population of towns greater than 10,000 164,582 165,922 1,340 0.8%
Population of towns 5,000- 9,999 48,231 49,573 1,342 2.8%
Population of towns 1,500-4,999 66,647 68,378 1,731 2.6%
Total Population of towns greater than 1,500 279,460 283,873 4,413 1.6%

Source: CSO Census 2016 Profile 2 E2016: Population and Actual and Percentage Change 2011 to 2016 by Alphabetical List of Towns

 

While these urban populations are significant in the context of the region, it should be remembered that more than half a million people (535,953) are living in rural areas (in small settlements and open countryside) in the Region.  The CSO has provides population details of a further 201 settlements in the Region, the smallest of these is Malin (population 92) and 103,936 people live in these.  A total of 440,888 (53%) therefore live in more open countryside (and in even smaller settlements).

Conclusion

It is important to remember that the Western Region is a very rural region, and while higher level services (for example in health and education) should be provided in the larger urban settlements, the needs of those living in more rural, dispersed populations and the best means of providing services and access to services and employment in these areas must be considered.

For some more detail on town populations in each Western Region county see the WDC County Profiles.

Helen McHenry

Census 2016: Housing In Ireland – What has been happening in the Western Region?

Last week the CSO published their first full volume of statistics from Census 2016 – Housing in Ireland. The infographic below illustrates some of the data available.

Below, we take a look at what some of the headline figures say about housing in the Western Region.

What is the housing stock in the Western Region?

Overall the housing stock in the Western Region in 2016 amounted to 404,494 units, accounting for 19.9% of the national total. There was a marginal increase since 2011 of 0.1% or 333 units, less than the national increase of 0.4%. These relatively small increases are not surprising following the economic crash and the very limited house building that has taken place since then. A blog post last September reviewing the preliminary results made some observations on the 2006 to 2011 period also, see here.

Within the Western Region there was an actual decline in housing stock in three of the counties, (see Table 1 below), Roscommon, -0.9% (-300), Sligo -0.8% (-280) and Leitrim -0.4% (-77), indicating some houses have been removed from the housing stock. The data does not tell us specifically the reasons why, but could include ‘ghost estates’ which have become demolished, derelict or abandoned. A change of use, from residential to commercial, could also be an explanation.

Though these are marginal changes, Galway county and city recorded percentage increases in housing stock higher than the State average of 0.4%.

 Table 1: Housing stock in western counties, Western Region and rest of state, State 2006, 2011

 

What are the vacancy rates in the region?

The vacancy rate measures the share of the housing stock in each county that is recorded as a vacant dwelling by the Census enumerators.  Nationally, the vacancy rate in 2016 was 12.3%, a decrease of 2.2 percentage points on the 2011 rate of 14.5%.

Table 2 below shows the vacancy rates for counties in the Western Region.   All counties in the Western Region experienced a slight decrease in their vacancy rates between 2011 and 2016.  Leitrim (29%), Donegal (27.4%), Mayo (23.4%), Roscommon (20.9%) and Sligo (20.1%) had the highest vacancy rates in the region, all exceeding 20% or one fifth of supply. Conversely only counties Galway and Clare had rates less than one fifth. Galway city (10.5%) had the lowest rate in the Western Region.

Table 2: Vacancy rates in western counties, Western Region and State, 2011-2016

  2011 % 2016 % Change 2006-2016 (%)
Clare 21.2 19.6 -1.6
Donegal 28.6 27.4 -1.2
   Galway City 11.2 9.4 -1.8
   Galway County 19.4 17.2 -2.2
Leitrim 30.5 29.0 -1.5
Mayo 24.7 23.4 -1.3
Roscommon 23.2 20.9 -2.3
Sligo 22.2 20.1 -2.1
State 14.5 12.3 -2.2

 

 Source: CSO, Census of Population 2016.

Vacancy rates relative to population

Figure 4.3 below illustrates the combined number of vacant houses and apartments per 1,000 inhabitants at county level in 2011 and 2016. Nationally there were 38 vacant homes per 1,000 people in April 2016, a fall from the corresponding figure of 50 recorded in 2011.

The highest number of empty dwellings (excluding holiday homes) relative to population size was in in Leitrim where for every 1,000 people in that county there were 112 vacant homes. This is followed by Roscommon, Mayo, Donegal and Sligo. In fact all Western Region counties fall within the 10 counties with the highest number of empty dwellings relative to population size.  Only Galway city is comparable to the State average. The lowest number of empty dwellings (excluding holiday homes) relative to population size was in South Dublin (13) followed by Fingal (17) and Kildare (20).

Vacancy rate in towns

Of the total 183,312 vacant houses and apartments, 64% (117,381) were located within the 873 settlements (cities, towns and villages) identified in Census 2016. At individual town level and excluding holiday homes, Keshcarrigan (45.6%) in Leitrim had the second highest vacancy rate after Blacklion (46.4%) in Cavan.

Among the urban towns (i.e. towns with a population of 1,500 or more) the highest vacancy rates were recorded in Ballaghaderreen (33.1%) and Castlerea (27.7%) in County Roscommon, along with Bundoran (29.9%) in County Donegal.

Among the larger towns with a population in excess of 10,000 the highest vacancy rates were in  Letterkenny (14.9 %), Longford (14.6 %) and Ballina, Co. Mayo (14.3 %).

Vacancy Changes since 2011

It is interesting to observe the change in status of the housing stock that existed in 2011 especially considering there has been so little change in the overall housing stock.

In Census 2011, there were 230,056 vacant houses and apartments. Of these the change in status in stock can be measured in 81.9% of cases[1]. Figure 4.6 below shows the dwelling status of Census 2011 vacant dwellings in 2016 capturing those that remain vacant, those that are occupied and those that other/unknown.

Overall, Census 2016 results show that 34.5% of dwellings (65,039) were recorded as vacant in both censuses, while 105,384 (55.9%) which were vacant in 2011 were occupied in 2016.

The Western Region counties have the lowest rates of occupancy and highest rates of vacancy. All Western Region counties are among the top 8 counties with the highest vacancy rates. The counties of Mayo and Roscommon had over 40% of vacant dwellings with the same status in 2011 and 2016.

The greatest reduction in 2011 vacant dwellings occurred in city and suburban areas where over 60% of dwellings changed from vacant to occupied across the counties of Fingal, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, South Dublin and Cork City.

Within the Western Region, 30.3% of dwellings in Leitrim which were vacant in 2011 were occupied in 2016, while the rate for County Galway in 2016 is 38.3%. In Galway city 56.8% of previously vacant dwellings were occupied in 2016.

Conclusions

While the total housing stock grew by just 8,800 (0.4%) between 2011 and 2016, and by just 0.1% in the Western Region, there is more change evident in occupancy and vacancy rates. It is also very clear that there are huge differences in housing stock and vacancy rates across the country.

While the counties in the Western Region have the highest vacancy rates there is evidence of change here too, with for example Leitrim showing an increase in occupancy of 30% of those dwellings that were vacant in 2016.

The full detail including charts and tables are available from the CSO at this link

This analysis also highlights the value of a five yearly census. The changes evident in the last 5 years are striking compared to that which occurred 5 years earlier. As such these data are vital to informing policy and research.

Deirdre Frost

[1] Changes in the fieldwork which were adopted for both the 2011 and 2016 censuses, mean that a direct comparison at individual dwelling level is possible for 188,390 (81.9%) of these units. The remaining vacant dwellings in 2011 have either fallen outside the housing stock in 2016 (i.e. categorised by Census 2016 enumerators as Derelict, Commercial Only, Under Construction or as not existing) or a direct comparison was not possible.