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E-Work and New ‘Work’

In a previous blog post, E-Working – what are the trends? I examined the data available on e-work, also termed tele-working. Much of the data, especially the trend data available from the Census, only measures those workers who work ‘mainly at or from home’ and as discussed this only captures a small element of the workforce which we know, frequently work from home.

Capturing the extent to which people e-work is related to how the question is phrased; so for example if the Census question was changed, to ask whether a person worked on one or even a ½ day per week basis, it is likely to significantly increase the number reporting that they are e-workers.

Rural E-working

A recent report commissioned by Vodafone and conducted by Amárach Research, Connected Futures (3.8MB) examined the extent to which broadband has influenced those working in rural Ireland. The research found that nearly one in four broadband users in rural Ireland uses the internet at home in relation to their work (about 430,000 people). Among those remotely accessing work from home, most use the internet to check email and organise their work diary. Nearly half use the internet at home to work on reports and presentations. These e-workers report that with internet access, they can avoid commuting to work, which the research indicates typically occurs about two days a week.

Entirely Home-based E-work

The use of communications technology and more importantly its widespread availability at home has allowed new forms of work to emerge.

An early use of home-based working which is conditional on the availability of a minimum level of broadband speed has been the outsourcing of work where the employee is entirely home-based. For example Amazon and Apple were reported as requiring applicants to have a minimum 5Mbps download speed for home based customer support jobs. This and the need for universal high speed broadband is discussed in the WDC Report, Connecting the West, Next Generation Broadband in the Western Region (Low Res 1.5Mb).

Enforced Flexibility

A new report, published last week by TASC, Enforced Flexibility? Working in Ireland Today, (609kb) discusses an emerging practice where employees work entirely from home, though not by employee choice. For at least one of the high tech multinationals an emerging practice is to place some of their customer service workers in their own homes.  While traditionally the choice to work from home was perceived as a positive option, in this case the decision was made by the organisation rather than the individual: it was not an option as there was no possibility of working in an office. (p.62).

E-working has generally been considered in a positive light from the employee perspective, enabling more flexibility in working hours which can be more family friendly, reduced commuting time as well as fuel and carbon savings. However the TASC report notes that e-working which is wholly and entirely conducted from home, without the option of working in an office may not offer the same degree of flexibility. Constantly online during their shifts they were subject to the same tight supervision as those based in a traditional call centre environment. While it is difficult to establish what proportion of customer service workers now work in this way, there is evidence that the numbers are growing (p.62). In some instances these employees are self-employed contractors even though they are entirely contracted to the one employer.

The ‘Gig economy’

Measuring the extent of e-work is further complicated by the changing nature of work. The evolution of communications technology which has enabled the increased possibility of e-work, has evolved even further to allow new forms of ‘work’ to emerge.

Broadband and online platforms have allowed the development of new types of work and service delivery variously termed the ‘gig economy’, ‘sharing economy’, ‘crowd working’ and ‘uberisation’. Previously ‘gigs’ were how musicians earned a living, now the ‘gig economy’ includes all those who rent out their property, possessions or services for a fee, all of which is managed online!

The ‘gig economy’ is another form of e-work as it relies on electronic communication, though with the increasing use and availability of smartphones and mobile broadband this type of e-work is often less tied to a fixed location, whether this is at home or elsewhere. The ‘gig economy’ can also be seen as entrepreneurial, allowing individuals to initiate a process of selling goods or services and increasing the potential for self-employment.

Much of this type of work and service delivery is likely to be more developed in large urban centres, with significant critical mass. So far, within Ireland, Uber is just in Dublin and Cork – though the IDA announced a significant jobs announcement by Uber  in Limerick earlier this year.

However while parts of the ‘gig economy’ are urban driven, it is by no means exclusive to it. Airbnb can operate anywhere and maybe very popular in more rural areas with more limited supply, especially in high season.

As a type of employment, the ‘gig economy’ has raised questions about workers’ rights and protections such as guaranteed income, health care and pensions. Hillary Clinton, US Presidential candidate, when outlining her economic plan noted, This on-demand, or so called gig economy is creating exciting economies and unleashing innovation. But it is also raising hard questions about workplace protections and what a good job will look like in the future.

Evidence of the ‘Gig Economy’

To what extent the ‘gig economy’ is changing the nature of work is not clear. Some argue that while more are choosing to earn income from this ‘gig economy’, it is not clear whether this is in the absence of another job or to supplement existing paid employment?

Research undertaken by the University of Hertfordshire has tried to quantify the extent of the ‘gig economy’ in both the UK and Sweden.

The research found that in the UK around 5 million people are engaged in the ‘gig economy’. In the UK online survey 21% say they have tried to find work managed via so called ‘sharing economy’ platforms such as Upwork, Uber or Handy during the past year, equivalent to around 9 million people or almost one fifth of the adult population. Around 1 in 10 (11%) of respondents said they had succeeded in doing so, equivalent to around 4.9 million people.

Almost a quarter (24%) of UK women responding to the survey claim to have sought work via online platforms, and one third (33%) of 25-34 year olds.

3% of respondents claim to find paid work via online platforms at least once a week, equivalent to around 1.3 million adults, with 4%, or around 1.8 million finding work at least once a month.

Main source of income or a supplement?

A quarter of all those workers in the ‘gig economy’ say they rely on this income as their sole or main source of income.

Only 10% of those workers in the ‘gig economy’ were students, a proportion that dropped to 6% among those working in the ‘gig economy’ weekly. This is in line with the general proportion of students in the adult population of the UK (at around 8%).

The range of work is extremely broad, from high-skill professional work at one extreme to running errands at the other. The most common type of work, undertaken by more than two thirds is office work, short tasks and ‘click work’ done online. However a significant proportion are doing professional work, creative work, providing taxi services or a range of other services in people’s homes.

Where is the ‘Gig economy’?

From a geographic perspective, the largest numbers are in England with one in five based in London, just under a quarter each in the South, the Midlands and the North with 7% in Scotland and 3% in Wales. This reflects the general distribution of the UK population.

The Swedish online survey found a similar pattern to the UK survey. In Sweden 12% are working in the so-called ‘sharing economy’ for platforms such as Upwork, Uber or Skjutsgruppen, equivalent to around 737,000 people. Twice as many people (24%) used such sites in the hope of finding work – equivalent to almost a quarter of the working age population.

Conclusions

E-work can describe a variety of employment types ranging from ‘traditional work’ conducted at home or on the move, through to occasional engagement in online activity to generate additional income.

This can include a traditional employment relationship between an employee and an employer with the employee working from home possibly one or two days per week. It can also include the ‘new’ types of work and service delivery associated with the gig economy’, where people are often self-employed.

E-working of all types and the more recent growth in online platforms which has enabled new forms of income generation are all dependent on the widespread availability of broadband. The research to-date indicates that this type of employment and income generation is a very significant and growing element of the economy and labour market. The evidence cited from rural areas suggest that online participation for work is as prevalent, if not more so than in urban areas. This reinforces the need for the universal availability of quality broadband, another reason for the speedy rollout of the Government’s National Broadband Plan.

Deirdre Frost

Impact of Sectors on Western Region’s Jobs Recovery

Our last blog post examined the role that sectors play in regional GVA. Sectors also have a huge impact on the pattern of jobs growth.  Following on from our April WDC Insights publication ‘Jobs Recovery in the Western Region’, the WDC has just published new analysis examining the role that sectors have played in recent jobs trends.

‘Impact of Sectors on Western Region’s Jobs Recovery’ examines some of the causes for the region’s slower jobs recovery.

Lower jobs diversity

There is greater concentration of employment in a few sectors in the Western Region.  62.2% of jobs in the region are in its top five sectors (Industry, Health, Wholesale & Retail, Agriculture and Education) compared with 53.6% in the rest of the state.  Greater diversity in employment across sectors is an important aspect of regional resilience and growth.

Traditional and public sectors more important; services less so

The region has higher shares working in the traditional sectors (Agriculture, Construction, Industry) and also Public Services (Health, Education, Public Admin) than in the rest of the state (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1: Percentage of employment by broad sector, Western Region and Rest of State, Q1 2015

Fig. 1: Percentage of employment by broad sector, Western Region and Rest of State, Q1 2015

At the same time, there are lower shares employed in Locally Traded (Retail, Accommodation, Transport) and Knowledge (ICT, Finance, Professional) Services.  For Locally Traded Services, as these rely on domestic demand, lower incomes in the region  compared with much of the rest of the state may be a factor in this.  It also helps to explain the region’s higher youth unemployment as these are areas (shops, bars) where young people often find work.

The high-value Knowledge Services sectors is where the region lags the rest of the state most significantly.  These are seen as key sectors for growth and their poor performance is a cause for concern.

Strength in manufacturing

Manufacturing plays a more important role in the region’s employment, accounting for 15.6% of jobs compared with 12.2% in the rest of the state.  Between 2012 and 2015 growth in manufacturing jobs in the Western Region was more than twice that as in rest of state – 8.3% v 3.4% (Fig. 2).  The region’s manufacturing strength has been a key factor in the West’s relatively strong recovery in GVA.  Manufacturing is a key regional strength.

Decline in market services sectors

Between 2012 and 2015 there was jobs decline in the three market services sectors (Administration and Other, Locally Traded and Knowledge) in the Western Region, while they grew elsewhere in the state (Fig. 2).  This is the main reason for the Western Region’s slower jobs recovery.

Fig. 2: Percentage change in employment by broad sector, Western Region and Rest of State, Q1 2012 – Q1 2015

Fig. 2: Percentage change in employment by broad sector, Western Region and Rest of State, Q1 2012 – Q1 2015

Similar to the rest of the state, Agriculture and Construction saw the largest increases in job numbers in the Western Region, driven by strong agri-food exports and a resurgence in building activity.

Conclusion

This WDC Insights shows that slower jobs recovery in the Western Region is mainly due to contraction in market services sectors, in contrast with growth elsewhere.  In every year since 2011, the numbers working in the Western Region in both Knowledge Services and in Administration and Other Services has declined. This was during a time of recovery nationally.

While the region’s strong manufacturing base and Public Services employment have compensated to some extent, it has not been enough to allow the region to enjoy a similar rate of jobs recovery as elsewhere.  Optimising growth across all sectors, and addressing challenges in the market services sectors in particular, will be required for a healthier and more resilient regional labour market.

Pauline White

 

Source: 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.

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) (wdc.ie) 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).

Read the weekly WDC Insights Blog and follow @WDCInsights on Twitter.

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.

Notes:

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.

E-Working – what are the trends?

E-work or electronic working, also referred to as teleworking, are terms used to describe work which uses communications technology to work remotely from the office location.

With the widespread rollout of broadband services it might be expected that e-working is becoming more common. Is e-work more prevalent in urban or rural areas? To what extent does weaker broadband access in more rural locations impact on the rate of e-working? What are the other factors driving e-work?

What does the data say?

The evidence on e-working in Ireland is limited and complicated by different definitions.

Time series data is available from the Census and the most recent data available is from 2011. The 2011 Census asks whether one ‘works mainly at or from home’. Trend data shows that the level and share of those working mainly at or from home is in decline, as the chart below shows.

Chart 1. Population at work, population working mainly at or from home and share of working population working mainly at or from home

E-working trends

Source: CSO Census of Population: Statbank Interactive tables

In 1986 17.2% of workers were reported as working at or mainly from home and this had declined to 4.7% in 2011. However this includes those engaged in agricultural employment and the decline in numbers engaged in this sector would largely explain the overall decline.

In 2002, the CSO carried out a special survey on Teleworking, which examined the profile of teleworkers in Ireland across a range of characteristics. It distinguished between (1) those who work from home and (2) those who work from home and use a computer and (3) those who work from home and need a computer with a telecommunications link, this latter group are defined as teleworkers. This survey found that nationally 2.3% of those in employment were classed as teleworkers. It should be noted that these data exclude workers in the Agriculture, forestry and fishing sector.

More recently a survey conducted by UPC (3.41 MB) in 2014 found that 47% of Irish employees use the internet at home in relation to work, up from 45% in 2012.

Regional differences

There are regional differences recorded, for example in the CSO 2002 survey the Mid-East region recording the highest rate at 2.9%. This is followed by Dublin with 2.7% of those in employment classed as teleworkers. Commuting to Dublin is likely to be an important driver explaining the higher rate in the Mid-East. The lowest rate of teleworking was recorded in the Mid-West with a rate of 1.5% of all in employment classified as teleworking. The West region, comprising largely rural counties of Mayo, Roscommon and Galway, recorded a rate of 2.2% teleworkers as a percentage of those in employment, higher than might be expected if access to quality broadband was a key driver.

More questions than answers

The difference in e-working levels reported – from 2.3% in the CSO 2002 survey through to 47% employees from the UPC 2014 survey raise further questions. Definitional differences no doubt explain some of the difference, though it is also likely that excluding Agriculture, the trend is may be upward, as evidenced by the UPC findings.

The 2016 Census figures should be available next year and it will be interesting to identify trends, especially since the return to employment growth. In the meantime further analysis of Census 2011 data is planned, examining occupational, sectoral and regional differences.

Other aspects to be examined in forthcoming work by the WDC include positive benefits that can accrue from more e-working such as carbon savings through lower transport emissions, more family friendly working and greater opportunities for employment creation and retention in more rural locations.

 

Deirdre Frost

 

Image source:www.alliedworldwide.com

 


The West in 1916

For the week that’s in it, we thought we’d turn our attention to 1916.  The CSO recently launched a very interesting resource that’s well worth investigating Life in 1916 Ireland: Stories from statistics that highlights just how much life has changed over the past century.

A lot of the data is for Ireland as a whole, but there’s county information on many topics.  Understandably much of the analysis focuses on living conditions for people in Dublin city at the time of the 1916 Rising, especially those living in the tenements, but some very interesting patterns for the West also emerge.

Shift in population

The past century has seen a fundamental shift in Ireland’s population towards the East coast, with Leinster’s population more than doubling (up 116%).  Munster meanwhile had a 20% increase.  In contrast, both Connacht and the counties of Ulster in the Republic both experienced an 11% fall in their population over the past 100 years.

At a county level, all counties of the Western Region, except Galway and Clare, had a fall in population ranging from -50% in Leitrim to -4% in Donegal (Fig. 1). Within the region, the population tended to shift southwards.

Map of population change in Ireland, 1911-2011

Fig. 1: Change in population by county, 1911-2011. Source: http://www.cso.ie/en/releasesandpublications/ep/p-1916/1916irl/people/population/#d.en.94294

Housing conditions

There were 176,659 housing units in the Western Region in 1911. There was a 69% increase over the following century, but this increase is dwarfed by the 222% increase in housing units in the Rest of the State, clearly a consequence of the shifting population patterns.

The region was also characterised by fewer ‘big houses’ with less than 5% of all houses having 10 rooms or more compared with 11.5% in the Rest of the State.  Mayo, Leitrim and Roscommon had the lowest shares of large houses.

At the other end of the scale, there were 10,080 one room dwellings in the Western Region in 1911. If we specifically consider one room dwellings which housed three or more people (Fig. 2), the impact of Dublin’s tenements is clear. Over half of one room dwellings in the city had three or more people.

For the Western Region it was quite a mixed picture with the large rural counties of Donegal and Mayo having the next highest shares after Dublin, while Roscommon and Leitrim had among the lowest.  Birth rates were a key factor here, as Roscommon (18.1 per 1,000 population) and Leitrim (19.2) had some of the lowest birth rates in the country in 1916, while Mayo (21.8) and Donegal (21.2) had among the highest.

Fig. 2: Percentage of one room dwellings with three or more people by county, 1911. Source: http://www.cso.ie/en/releasesandpublications/ep/p-1916/1916irl/society/livingconditions/#d.en.95615 and WDC calculations

Fig. 2: Percentage of one room dwellings with three or more people by county, 1911. Source: http://www.cso.ie/en/releasesandpublications/ep/p-1916/1916irl/society/livingconditions/#d.en.95615 and WDC calculations

Seasonal Agricultural Work

The prevalence of large numbers living in one room dwellings in Donegal and Mayo could be linked to the phenomenon of seasonal agricultural workers which was strongest in these counties. In 1914, approximately 13,000 people migrated to Britain for seasonal agricultural work.  The county of origin for 7,246 of these migrants is known and Mayo and Donegal accounted for over 80% of the migrants (4,282 and 1,640 respectively).  As these workers would be absent from the home for long periods, the actual number of people living in some of these one room dwellings during these periods would have been lower.

The CSO quotes the Department of Agriculture & Technical Instruction reporting that labourers “…save usually from half to three-quarters of their earnings, and some return home with as much as £20 saved in the season.” This report also noted that 97% of migrants from Donegal went to Scotland while 93% of the migrants from Mayo went to England and Wales.

Literacy

This pattern of seasonal agricultural work was also likely a factor in these counties having the highest rates of illiteracy in the country with Donegal (16.8%), Galway (15.3%) and Mayo (14.6%) having the highest (Fig. 3).

Fig. 3: Percentage of population by literacy level by county, 1911 (note: there were a considerable number of persons where this information was missing). Source: http://www.cso.ie/en/releasesandpublications/ep/p-1916/1916irl/society/livingconditions/#d.en.95615 and WDC calculations

Fig. 3: Percentage of population by literacy level by county, 1911 (note: there were a considerable number of persons where this information was missing). Source: http://www.cso.ie/en/releasesandpublications/ep/p-1916/1916irl/society/livingconditions/#d.en.95615 and WDC calculations

Infant Mortality

While the West may have had higher illiteracy rates, one area where it performed well was in infant mortality.  Ireland’s infant mortality rate in 1916 was 81.3 i.e., for every 1,000 babies born during 1916, 81 died before they reached twelve months of age. The infant mortality rate was truly shocking in Dublin City at 153.5, followed by Dublin County at 102.2 and Limerick at 101.1 (Fig. 4).

Counties in the Western Region had the lowest rates of infant mortality with a rate of 34.6 in Roscommon, 45.9 in Leitrim and 51.4 in Mayo. The CSO notes it is likely that higher population densities in urban areas (such as in the tenements in Dublin City) contributed to the spread of diseases. While poverty was widespread in both urban and rural areas, there would have been greater access to fresh air and better quality food in rural areas.

Fig. 4: Infant mortality rate (per 1,000 births) by county, 1916. Source: http://www.cso.ie/en/releasesandpublications/ep/p-1916/1916irl/bmd/births/#d.en.97677

Fig. 4: Infant mortality rate (per 1,000 births) by county, 1916. Source: http://www.cso.ie/en/releasesandpublications/ep/p-1916/1916irl/bmd/births/#d.en.97677

While we’ve highlighted some of the most striking figures showing what life was like in the West in 1916, there’s a lot more you can discover in this fascinating resource.

Pauline White

Uneven regional impact of Ireland’s jobs recovery

There was a lot of discussion of the jobs recovery during the election campaign. In fact ‘Jobs’ was consistently ranked No. 2 in Google searches related to the Irish election this year (just behind Taxes). And much of the discussion was about where those jobs were being created.

The results of this year’s Census will give a great opportunity to really interrogate the spatial patterns of Ireland’s recent jobs performance and what has happened since 2011, especially to consider how any recovery has benefitted rural areas, villages, small towns, disadvantaged urban areas etc. However those results will not be available until 2017 so in the meantime we need to rely on survey based data, which is limited in its availability at regional or county level.

As the labour market is extremely complex, it’s difficult to fully capture that complexity, especially at smaller spatial scales where a single employer or event can have a major impact. In this blog post therefore I’ve taken a very broad look at regional job trends to try to provide a snapshot of what’s happening. The latest available regional employment data was published last week (CSO, Quarterly National Household Survey, Quarter 4 2015) and is used here.

Percentage change in employment 2006-2010 and 2011-2015

Fig. 1 shows the percentage change in the number of people at work in each of the NUTS3 regions. It compares two five-year periods, the crisis (Q4 2006 – Q4 2010) and the recovery (Q4 2011 – Q4 2015). As we know, during the crisis the South East, Midlands and Border were particularly hard hit by job losses. This included people who had been commuting from these regions into Dublin, many of whom had bought houses at the edges of the ever expanding Dublin commuter belt. Intimately linked to this, these regions also had a high reliance on the construction sector.

It was the Mid-East and West which had the smallest employment declines, the strength of Galway and its medical devices cluster is known to have contributed to this in the West. However, one of the most noticeable patterns in Fig. 1 is that the Mid-West and West do not seem to be benefitting from the jobs recovery, having employment decline in both periods. For a number of other regions, the growth they have experienced between 2011 and 2015 is less than their previous percentage decline. This is the case for the Border, South-East, South-West and Mid-East.  Only the Midlands has experienced stronger jobs growth than its earlier decline.

Fig. 1: Percentage change in employment by NUTS3 region, Q4 2006 – Q4 2010 and Q4 2011 – Q4 2015. Source: CSO, Quarterly National Household Survey, Q4 2015

Fig. 1: Percentage change in employment by NUTS3 region, Q4 2006 – Q4 2010 and Q4 2011 – Q4 2015. Source: CSO, Quarterly National Household Survey, Q4 2015

Regional employment trends 2006-2015

Fig. 2 shows the number of people in employment in each of the NUTS3 regions except Dublin (which is excluded due to scale) from 2006 to 2015. The South West, with 284,000 has the highest employment of the regions shown. The South-West shows a clear pattern of decline followed by gradual recovery, but in 2015 remains below its 2007 peak. The South-East, Border and Midlands follow a similar pattern as does the Mid-East though it did have a slight decline in 2015. The only region to regain its 2007 level of employment is the Midlands.

Again, the West and Mid-West stand out as having a different experience. While they had a similar decline from 2007, their employment trends do not show any real signs of recovery. For the Mid-West, employment has remained almost unchanged since 2012, while in the West it has declined notably since 2013.

Fig. 1: Employment by NUTS3 region (excluding Dublin), Q4 2006 – Q4 2015. Source: CSO, Quarterly National Household Survey, Q4 2015

Fig. 1: Employment by NUTS3 region (excluding Dublin), Q4 2006 – Q4 2015. Source: CSO, Quarterly National Household Survey, Q4 2015

The reasons for the weak performance of the West and Mid-West would need to be further explored. In their 2015 end of year statement, Enterprise Ireland reported that the North-West, Mid-West and West had the lowest jobs growth in companies assisted by the agency, while the poor performance of the North-West region in total agency assisted employment since 2005 has been discussed in a previous blog. The Western Region clearly faces some very serious challenges in its ability to fully benefit from the national jobs recovery.

Others have also been examining the uneven regional distribution of jobs growth, such as PublicPolicy.ie. It is a topic that clearly must be a priority for the next Programme for Government and central to the development of the new National Planning Framework, which will have to be taken up by the new Government and Minister.

Pauline White

 

Unemployment declining in Western Region at a slower pace

A few interesting trends are emerging from our initial analysis of a special run of data received from the CSO’s Quarterly National Household Survey for Quarter 1 2015. This data covers the seven county Western Region and compares data for the region with the rest of the state (all other counties combined).

Following the general trend, the Western Region’s unemployment rate is declining but this is happening at a slower pace than elsewhere. The region’s unemployment rate is now 10.4%, above the 9.8% rate in the rest of the state (Fig. 1). This compare with 11.4% and 12.1% respectively a year previously (Q1 2014). The unemployment situation seems to be improving more rapidly in the rest of the state.

Fig. 1: Unemployment rate in Western Region and rest of the state, Q1 2006 - Q1 2015. Source: CSO, QNHS Q1 2015. Special run.

Fig. 1: Unemployment rate in Western Region and rest of the state, Q1 2006 – Q1 2015. Source: CSO, QNHS Q1 2015. Special run.

Part of the reason for this is that the numbers in employment in the region have grown by less than elsewhere. Over the past year the numbers at work increased by 1.4% in the Western Region compared with 2.3% growth in the rest of the state.

The slower decline in the region’s unemployment rate also carries through to long-term unemployment which fell from 7.0% to 6.4% in the Western Region compared with a far greater drop (7.3% to 5.8%) in the rest of the state.

But it is among young people that the region’s poorer unemployment record really stands out. The unemployment rate among young people (15-24 years) in the Western Region is 30.8% (Fig. 2). This is a full 10 percentage points higher than in the rest of the state (20%). And unlike the general trend, the youth unemployment rate in the region is continuing to climb, up from 29.2% in the past year. This is in stark contrast to the rest of the country where youth unemployment declined strongly (from 24.6% to 20%) widening the regional gap even more.

Fig. 1: Unemployment rate in Western Region and rest of the state, Q1 2006 - Q1 2015. Source: CSO, QNHS Q1 2015. Special run.

Fig. 1: Unemployment rate in Western Region and rest of the state, Q1 2006 – Q1 2015. Source: CSO, QNHS Q1 2015. Special run.

Earlier this week the Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed (INOU) highlighted the fact that jobseekers in rural areas are finding it harder to get a job and that the recovery is not being felt in all parts of the country.  Our initial analysis of the Q1 2015 data for the Western Region, where two-thirds of the population live in rural areas, supports this assertion and in particular for younger jobseekers.

The need for a more even spatial pattern of job creation has been highlighted in a number of recent strategies such as the IDA’s, and the upcoming Action Plan for Jobs for the West and Border regions will also focus on this, but it remains to be seen how effective these strategies will be.

The WDC will be releasing further analysis of the region’s labour market over the coming months.

Pauline White

The Western Region’s Sectoral Profile

We’ve just published WDC Insights-The Western Region’s Sectoral Profile-April 2015 (PDF 0.2MB) which presents the key findings from The Western Region’s Labour Market 2004-2014-WDC Report March 2015 (PDF 2.5MB) on the region’s sectoral pattern of employment.

Understanding the sectoral pattern of jobs in the region, and recent patterns of sectoral growth and decline, is particularly important to the development of job creation, skills and enterprise policy for the region.

Sector of employment

The two largest employment sectors in the Western Region are Wholesale and Retail, and Industry with around 30% of jobs (Fig. 1).  Of the region’s top seven sectors, all (except Health) account for a greater share of jobs in the region than the rest of the state.  Agriculture and Industry (manufacturing) are considerably more important in the region.  Among the region’s smaller sectors the share working in them in the region is considerably below that in the rest of the state.

In general the Western Region’s jobs profile relies more heavily than the rest of the state on the traditional sectors (Industry, Agriculture and Construction) and local services (Wholesale and Retail, and Accommodation and Food Service) which depend on domestic spending and tourism.  The region’s sectoral jobs pattern is influenced by its largely rural nature.

Fig. 1: Percentage of employment by sector in the Western Region and rest of the state, Q1 2014 (Source:  CSO, Quarterly National Household Survey, Q1 2014, Table 2. Special run)

Fig. 1: Percentage of employment by sector in the Western Region and rest of the state, Q1 2014 (Source: CSO, Quarterly National Household Survey, Q1 2014, Table 2. Special run)

Western Region’s share of jobs by sector

This jobs pattern can also be seen in the region’s share of national total jobs in each sector.  In total 16.5% of all jobs in the state are located in the Western Region (Fig. 2).  Agriculture, Industry and Construction are the sectors where the region makes its largest contribution to national jobs.

The region’s share of all Industry jobs nationally has increased very strongly in recent years from 16% in 2007 to its current 19.5%, due to its relatively more stable jobs performance in the region.  The region’s manufacturing strength is a key national asset and a previous blog post on ‘Trends in Agency Assisted Employment in the Western Region’ highlighted the industrial sub-sectors which have driven the region’s manufacturing strength.

The three knowledge intensive services sectors are where the region accounts for its lowest shares of national jobs.  Less than 10% of all Information and Communication, and Financial, Insurance and Real Estate jobs are based in the region and its share of both has declined since 2012.  Not only does the region have low shares in these sectors but it is losing ground.

Fig. 2: Percentage of total employment in the state based in the Western Region by sector, Q1 2014 (Source:  CSO, Quarterly National Household Survey, Q1 2014, Table 2. Special run)

Fig. 2: Percentage of total employment in the state based in the Western Region by sector, Q1 2014 (Source: CSO, Quarterly National Household Survey, Q1 2014, Table 2. Special run)

Recent changes in employment by sector

Between 2012 and 2014 half of sectors (7 of 14) experienced jobs growth in the Western Region (Fig. 3).  Agriculture grew most strongly followed by Professional, Scientific and Technical activities next.  Growth in these sectors contributed to the region’s increasing share of self-employment.  Wholesale and Retail and Accommodation and Food Service also grew as this period coincided with an increase in overseas visitor numbers as well as consumer spending.

The Western Region experienced a far greater jobs decline than the rest of the state across many sectors, including knowledge intensive services and public services.  In the case of Information and Communication, employment fell by nearly 16% in the region but it had the fourth largest growth in the rest of the country (5.2%).  The reasons for the Western’s Region poor, and weakening, jobs performance in this high growth potential sector need to be investigated.

Fig. 3: Percentage change in employment by sector in the Western Region and rest of the state, Q1 2012 to Q1 2014 (Source:  CSO, Quarterly National Household Survey, Q1 2014, Table 2. Special run)

Fig. 3: Percentage change in employment by sector in the Western Region and rest of the state, Q1 2012 to Q1 2014 (Source: CSO, Quarterly National Household Survey, Q1 2014, Table 2. Special run)

These key 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 region’s labour market characteristics should influence which policies are prioritised for the region and the sectors of focus for job creation strategies.

Download WDC Insights The Western Region’s Sectoral Profile and full report ‘The Western Region’s Labour Market 2004-2014’ here

Pauline White

 

Note: The CSO has noted concerns over the impact of the new sampling structure on the employment figures for Agriculture. 

Source: CSO, Quarterly National Household Survey, Quarter 1 2004-2014, special run

 

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