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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

Rural Commuting to Urban Jobs

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

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

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

The WDC Policy Briefing notes that

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

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

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

Deirdre Frost

Note:

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

County Incomes and Regional GDP

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

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

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

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

Download  a two page WDC Insights summary here

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

Pauline White