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Is e-Working on the Increase?

There has been much talk recently of an increase in e-working but does the evidence support the idea that it is more prevalent?

Technology development and in particular high speed broadband enables much office based work to be conducted remotely or away from the office. This, coupled with increased journey times to work has led to a greater demand for the opportunity for staff to work remote from the office and closer to home on a one or 2 days a week basis. Companies are reportedly increasing the availability of e-working in part as a means to retain key personnel[1].

The growth in employment opportunities in the shared or gig economy is another factor driving broadband demand to support employment growth and there is evidence that work and income generation in this sector is an important feature in rural areas such as the Western Region, see here.

Regional employers also value the ability to provide remote working opportunities, for example, Shopify recently announced the addition of 100 remote working jobs in the west of Ireland due to the presence of high-speed broadband, while Pramerica, a US multinational in Letterkenny, employ at least 20 e-workers who work from a well-established hub in Gweedore, Co. Donegal. Wayfair has also recently announced their intention to add over 200 jobs to their “Virtual” workforce in the west of Ireland (https://www.idaireland.com/newsroom/wayfair).

Benefits from e-working

Analysis for the Department of Communications measured benefits arising from delivery of high speed broadband planned under the forthcoming National Broadband Plan[2];

  • found that each house could yield a benefit of €89.00 per household per annum resulting from journey time and fuel cost savings from increased e-Working as a consequence of the availability of high speed broadband. This does not include other benefits such as carbon emissions savings etc.
  • Increased productivity is also forecast, generated from improved productivity of white collar workers living in rural areas but commuting to work in urban areas. This shows the benefit to the enterprise expressed as an increase in GVA per employee of 1.53% (€1,342) per worker, working from home or remote working on a 1 day per week basis. This does not capture benefits such as increased staff retention and more satisfied employees[3].

Demand for e-working/co-working spaces/ Hubs

The success of initiatives variously called e-working spaces/ co-working spaces/ hubs also suggests e-working is on the increase. However the various terms are used to describe a variety of uses, only some of which may actually support the individual e-worker.

There are working spaces in the enterprise space some of which are funded by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation. Hubs variously classed as innovation, enterprise or community hubs, many are focussed on start ups and incubation spaces rather than providing e-working spaces for individual employees.

In the Western Region, the success of Digital hubs in County Clare, https://www.digiclare.ie/  where there are spaces in three sites across the county, Kilrush, Miltown Malbay and Feakle suggest an increased demand for e-working spaces.  Many of these types of hubs are providing high speed telecommunications access to communities that do not yet have access and are (still) awaiting the rollout of the National Broadband Plan. Initiatives such as Grow Remote suggest e-working  is an increasing phenomenon.

 The evidence on e-Working

However as the WDC pointed out in its e-working policy briefing, the evidence on e-Working in Ireland is limited and complicated by different definitions. The most comprehensive data is collected in the Census and the same question has been asked on previous Censuses. The question asked is ‘how you usually travel to work?’ with one of the answers being ‘work mainly at or from home’.

According to the Census, nationally, in 2011, 4.7% (83,326) of all those at work, stated they worked mainly at or from home. By 2016 there were 94,955 persons working ‘mainly at or from home’ in April 2016, an increase of 14%. There was a 11% increase in the numbers at work over the same period, indicating an increasing prevalence of working from home.

However, the Census definition is a very broad definition in that it includes all those that are self-employed and work from home (such as childminders, home-based GPs, farmers and sole traders across all sectors) and not just e-Workers. Moreover, the Census definition only captures those employees that work from home most of the working week and excludes those who e-Work even one or two days per week, which some studies suggest is the most common pattern of e-Working.

In 2016 an IBEC survey of their membership found that 30% (110) of companies had a practice of e-Working/ home-working, on one or two days per week. At a regional level, 21% of companies in the West/North-West report a practice of e-Working one or two days per week, lower than the national average. The likelihood of e-Working among companies increases with company size so that 40% of companies with 500+ employees cite a practice of e-Working nationally. The trend is for continued growth in the practice with 31% of companies’ surveyed planning to increase their use of e-Working, with a forecast that 60% of office based workers will work remotely regularly by 2020, see here.

Examining e-Working in rural Ireland, a report commissioned by Vodafone, found that nearly one in four broadband users in rural Ireland use the internet at home in relation to their work (about 430,000 people) and one third have remote access to their company network for work purposes. These e-Workers report that e-Working means they can avoid commuting to work, typically about two days a week. An estimated 150,000 workers avoid commuting some or all of the time because they can connect to work remotely.

However, the same report found that a quarter of those who work from home – or nearly 100,000 adults – say their current broadband service is not sufficient to meet their requirements for e-Working, and that it limits the work-related activities they can do from home. This share rises to nearly half of those living in detached houses in the countryside. 30% report that slow and unreliable speeds currently prevent them and/or family members from working from home.

Conclusions

It is clear therefore that the incidence of e-Working is greater than the measure of ‘those working mainly at or from home’, as captured by the Census. It is also likely that the trend is generally upward.

It is also clear that the rollout of the National Broadband Plan remains a vital infrastructure investment needed to support employment growth and retention, apart from the various and widespread social benefits it can yield.

Better data is needed to capture the actual extent of e-Working. The CSO should consider revising the Census question as it currently only captures those ‘who work mainly at or from home’. Data should measure the incidence of e-Working on a one day, two days and more frequent basis. This will also provide a useful baseline for measuring trends.

[1] https://www.wdc.ie/wp-content/uploads/WDC_Policy-Briefing-no-7.pdf, https://www.wdc.ie/wp-content/uploads/WDC-Insights-Home-Based-Working-July-2017.pdf  IBEC HR Update Survey 2016, Issue 2.

[2] Indecon International Economic Consultants, July 2012. Economic / Socio-Economic Analysis of Options for

Rollout of Next Generation Broadband. http://www.dccae.gov.ie/communications/SiteCollectionDocuments/Broadband/National%20Broadband%20Plan.pdf

[3] See footnote 3. There is also an increase in productivity at the enterprise level – measured at 0.67% increase in GVA per small non-farm enterprise in the Intervention Area. This is as a result of productivity gains through improved businesses processes, online sales and owner managers having the flexibility of ‘always-on’ connectivity.

Regional Agency-Assisted Jobs 2017

In August the Department of Business, Enterprise & Innovation published the Annual Employment Survey (AES) for 2017.  This provides an analysis of employment in Industrial and Services companies under the remit of IDA Ireland, Enterprise Ireland and Údarás na Gaeltachta.  This type of employment is referred to as ‘agency-assisted’.

In 2017, total permanent, full-time employment (PFT) in agency-assisted companies in Ireland was 379,810.  This was an increase of 19,369 jobs (5.4%) on 2016, continuing the growth trend in evidence since 2011.  Part-time, temporary or contract employment in agency-assisted firms also increased by 1,796 jobs in 2017 and now stands at 48,221, the highest number recorded in the 10-year period.

Combining PFT and Temporary/Part-time jobs brings total agency-assisted employment in Ireland to 428,031 in 2017.  This was 19.5% of total employment in the country in that year (average employment of 2,194,150 across the year, based on CSO’s Labour Force Survey).

The AES data includes a detailed regional breakdown of agency-assisted employment by employment type and ownership in Appendix B.

Regional agency-assisted employment

We will begin by looking at the three larger regions of the Border, Midlands & West (BMW), South & East and Dublin.  All three initially experienced declines in assisted employment but have shown strong recovery since 2012 (Fig. 1). The South & East region has consistently been the largest, though in recent years as Dublin has grown more rapidly it has narrowed the gap somewhat.  Meanwhile the gap between the BMW region and the others has widened in recent years.

Fig. 1: Total agency-assisted employment in BMW, South & East and Dublin regions, 2008-2017. Source: DBEI, Annual Employment Survey 2017, Appendix B.

To consider this in more detail, we’ll look at the BMW’s share of total agency-assisted employment in the State.  The BMW region’s share has followed a downward trend across all types of ownership (Fig. 2). For Irish-owned employment, its share fell from 27.1% in 2008 to 25.6% in 2017.  While for foreign-owned agency supported jobs, its share fell from 19.2% to 18.9% over the 10-year period though it was higher during 2011-2014.  The region has consistently accounted for a higher share of all Irish-owned employment than of foreign-owned.

Fig. 2: BMW region’s share of total national agency-assisted employment, 2008-2017. Source: DBEI, Annual Employment Survey 2017, Appendix B.

At the more detailed regional level (Fig. 3) the share of total agency-assisted employment in each region changed between 2008 and 2017.  Dublin’s share of total assisted jobs grew steadily from 34.4% in 2008 up to 37.6% in 2017.  The second largest region is the South West and its share also grew from 14.8% to 16.3%.  While the South East was third largest in 2008, by 2017 the West had moved into third position, with the South East dropping to fifth.  Only three regions – Dublin, South West and West – had a higher share of total employment in 2017 than in 2008.

Fig. 3: Percentage of total national agency-assisted employment in each region, 2008, 2012 and 2017. Source: DBEI, Annual Employment Survey 2017, Appendix B.

 

While the share of total assisted employment located in several regions declined, all regions experienced growth in their actual number of agency-assisted jobs between 2008 and 2017 (Fig. 4). Clearly the South West (36.3%), Dublin (34.6%) and West (27%) (influenced by Cork, Dublin and Galway cities) had very strong growth over the 10-year period, with the South East (5.1%) and Mid-East (7%) performing least well.  This helps to explain their deteriorating relative positions.

Looking at the most recent performance (2016-2017), Dublin, the Mid-West and South East had the strongest growth, up 6.2% in the year. While most other regions had growth of around 5% the Mid-East actually saw a decline in agency-assisted employment in the year.

Fig. 4: Percentage change in total agency-assisted employment in each region, 2008-2017 and 2016-2017. Source: DBEI, Annual Employment Survey 2017, Appendix B.

Regional employment by type

Data is provided on two types of employment – Permanent, full-time and Temporary, part-time or contract employment (referred to as ‘Other’).  The percentage of total employment that is ‘Other’ has generally increased over the 10-year period, though with considerable volatility.  Nationally 11.3% of total employment in 2017 is ‘Other’ compared with 9.1% in 2008.

At 13.4% the West region has the highest share of Temporary/Part-time/Contract employment in 2017 and the share has been increasing since 2015.  In Dublin however, which has the next highest share (12% in 2017), it has been declining (Fig. 5). At 8.9% the Mid-East has the smallest share of ‘Other’ employment.

Fig. 5: Percentage of total agency-assisted employment that is temporary, part-time or contract employment in each region, 2008-2017. Source: DBEI, Annual Employment Survey 2017, Appendix B.

Regional employment by ownership  

The balance between foreign and Irish-owned agency assisted employment differs substantially at regional level (Fig. 6). The three regions with the largest number of agency-assisted jobs, and also the strongest growth during 2008-2017 (South West, West and Dublin) have the highest shares of foreign-owned employment at over 57% in 2017.  The Mid-West is the other region where the majority of assisted jobs are foreign-owned.

The Midlands and Border regions have the lowest shares of foreign-owned employment and therefore the largest shares of Irish-owned employment. Two-thirds of assisted jobs are in Irish companies.

Fig. 6: Percentage of total agency-assisted employment in foreign-owned and Irish-owned firms in each region, 2017. Source: DBEI, Annual Employment Survey 2017, Appendix B.

Fig. 7 shows that over the 10-year period, the South West, Dublin and West all had 40+% growth in agency-assisted foreign-owned jobs.  At 21.5% the Border also had strong growth in such jobs, though from a lower base.  In contrast, the Mid-East and Midlands both experienced a fall in foreign-owned assisted employment.

It should be noted that some of the changes in job numbers by ownership may be due to a transfer of ownership e.g. an Irish company bought by a foreign company or a foreign company becoming an Irish company through a management buy-out etc.  When a company changes ownership, jobs in that company are re-classified as Irish or foreign and the changes back-dated to previous years.

Irish-owned assisted jobs grew across all regions during 2008-2017, most strongly in the Mid-East somewhat compensating for declining foreign-owned employment.  The South West, Dublin and Midlands also had around 20% growth in Irish-owned assisted jobs with the South East and Border regions performing worst.

Irish-owned assisted employment out-performed foreign-owned in three regions (Mid-East, Midlands and Mid-West). In the case of the West, growth in foreign-owned assisted jobs was over three times greater than growth in Irish-owned assisted jobs, in Dublin and the South West it was about double.

Fig. 7: Percentage change in total agency-assisted employment in foreign-owned and Irish-owned firms in each region, 2008-2017. Source: DBEI, Annual Employment Survey 2017, Appendix B.

Over the past year (Fig. 8), all regions experienced growth in both foreign and Irish-owned assisted employment, except for foreign-owned jobs in the Mid-East. The South East (9.4%) and Dublin (7.2%) had strong growth in foreign-owned jobs with the Mid-East, Midlands and Border performing least well.  For Irish-owned jobs, the Mid-West, West and Midlands performed strongly.

In general there was less regional variation in the performance of Irish-owned assisted employment compared with foreign-owned.  Irish-owned firms out-performed foreign-owned in all regions except the South East, Dublin and South West.

Fig. 8: Percentage change in total agency-assisted employment in foreign-owned and Irish-owned firms in each region, 2016-2017. Source: DBEI, Annual Employment Survey 2017, Appendix B.

Conclusion

The strong growth trend evident in agency-assisted employment for the past number of years continued in 2017. All regions had a greater number of agency-assisted jobs in 2017 than they had in 2008.  There were considerable regional variations however, with the South West, Dublin and the West experiencing extremely strong jobs growth over the decade, substantially driven by foreign-owned companies, which led to their combined share of total assisted jobs increasing from 58.5% in 2008 to 63.5% in 2017. These three regions also have the highest shares of foreign-owned employment and two of them (West, Dublin) have the highest shares of Temporary/Part-time employment.

While all other regions have also seen growth in the numbers working in agency-assisted firms, this has been at a substantially lower level. The Mid-East and Midlands actually have fewer jobs in foreign-owned assisted firms in 2017 than they had in 2008, though growth in Irish-owned assisted jobs compensated for this, leading to overall growth.  The Border and Midlands show the highest shares of Irish-owned assisted employment and in the past year (2016-2017) Irish-owned firms out-performed foreign-owned in these two regions, as well as in the West, Mid-West and Mid-East.

While the foreign-owned sector has been a strong driver of assisted employment growth, especially in the Dublin, South West and West regions and in the initial stages of the recovery, the Irish-owned sector has responded strongly in more recent years and shows a more even geographical spread.

Pauline White

New WDC report on Travel to Work Patterns in the Western Region

The Western Development Commission (WDC) will shortly publish Travel to Work and Labour Catchments in the Western Region, A Profile of Seven Town Labour Catchments (2018) which will be available for download here.

In this publication, the WDC draws on Census 2016 POWCAR data to examine the travel to work patterns in centres with a population greater than 1,000 across the Western Region. The analysis, undertaken by the All Island Research Observatory (AIRO), identifies 42 labour catchments ranging in size from the largest, Galway City, with over 70,000 resident workers, through to centres with fewer than 1,000 resident workers.

The report also contains a detailed labour market profile of the principal towns in each of the seven counties of the Western Region, namely: Galway, Ennis, Sligo, Letterkenny, Castlebar, Roscommon and Carrick-on-Shannon. Trends are also examined, drawing on the original travel to work analysis based on Census 2006 conducted by the WDC.

The report notes some key findings:

  • All seven town labour catchments have significantly more people at work than the resident population of workers in each town as identified in the Census. They therefore have access to a larger labour supply. For example, Galway city labour catchment has a population at work more than double the Census population of resident workers, while Carrick-on-Shannon labour catchment has a population at work approximately 4.6 times the population of resident workers.
  • Compared to a decade earlier the seven county town labour catchments account for an increase of only 0.5% in the to­tal share of the population at work and living in the Western Region. This shows the limited change that has occurred over a long period and the need for very strong policy intervention to effect change.
  • The analysis highlights the importance of rural areas (centres with less than 1,000 persons) as employment locations. Generally over one fifth (in excess of 22%) of those living in the town labour catchment are employed in rural areas. The highest level of rural employment is in the Ennis labour catchment with over one quarter (26.9%) employed in the Clare rural area.
  • North-east Donegal is strongly linked to Northern Ireland. The ‘Derry Rural’ labour catchment accounts for over 5,000 resident workers, an increase of approximately 10% since 2006. This region will be most impacted by BREXIT, therefore policy needs to be developed and implemented to mitigate the impacts.

There are two outputs;

(i)    the full report, provides an overview of the travel to work analysis, identifies the 42 labour catchments, and provides an overview of change between 2006 and 2016.  It contains the detailed labour market profile of the principal towns in each of the seven counties of the Western Region (Galway, Ennis, Sligo, Letterkenny, Castlebar, Roscommon and Carrick-on-Shannon).

(ii)   Individual bulletins containing only the labour market profile of the principal towns are also available.

These reports will provide information for prospective employers, develop­ment agencies and regional and local authorities. These data can also be used in determining catchments for various services which will be of interest to transport providers, planners and local authorities. The outputs of the report will also be a useful evidence base for researchers and planners en­gaged with the Regional Spatial and Economic Strategies (RSES) for both the Northern and Western Region­al Assembly (NWRA) and the Southern Regional Assembly (SRA) and also for Project Ireland 2014, the National Planning Framework (NPF).

Regional Difference, Regional Strategies and a Ratio- employment and residence in towns in Ireland.

The National Planning Framework has a chapter on ‘Making Urban Places Stronger’ which covers settlements from cities to small towns.  In discussing Ireland’s urban structure (p58-59) it looks at population and employment and highlights a ratio of “jobs to resident workforce” as a key indicator of sustainability for a town.  Data is provided (in the NPF Appendix 2) on town population, resident workers and jobs in the town for 200 settlements with a population of over 1,500 people in 2016.  This is the only detailed data provided in the National Planning Framework.  It is useful to look at differences in the ratio across the regions to see if this indicator can help us better understand residence and employment as town functions.

The NPF suggests in the footnote to the discussion of this ratio that:

A ratio of 1.0 means that there is one job for every resident worker in a settlement and indicates a balance, although not a match, as some resident workers will be employed elsewhere and vice-versa. Ratios of more than 1.0 indicate a net in-flow of workers and of less than 1.0, a net out-flow. The extent to which the ratio is greater or less than 1.0, is also generally indicative of the extent to which a town has a wider area service and employment role, rather than as a commuter settlement. (Footnote 22 pg 176).

It suggests that those settlements with a high ratio of jobs to resident workforce are, by reason of accessibility, employment and local services, fulfilling important roles for a wider area.  This, as will be discussed later in this post, is particularly strongly indicated for towns in the North West.  Firstly, however, a scatter diagram (Figure 1) showing town size and the ratio of jobs to resident workers provides a good overview of the data.  For reasons of scale the five cities (Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway and Waterford) are not on this diagram but are discussed in more detail below.

Figure 1: Town Size and Jobs to Resident Workers by Regional Assembly Area.

Source: Project Ireland 2040 National Planning Framework, Appendix 2

The very different patterns among towns in the three regional assembly areas is clear in the diagram.  Towns in the Eastern and Midland Region tend to have lower ratios (most less than 1.0) with more workers leaving the town for jobs elsewhere than are travelling to the town.  In contrast towns in the Northern and Western Region, though generally smaller, are more often serving as centres of employment for their wider area.

As the NPF notes in relation to the North West, towns there tend to have ‘more significant employment and service functions relative to their regional and local catchment’ (p 59).  Table 1 below shows the ratio of jobs to resident workers for towns in the three Regional Assembly areas and the Western Region; the differences in the ratios again emphasise the different functions of towns in the Regions.

Table 1: Population, Resident Workers, Jobs and ratio of Jobs to Resident Workers in towns over 1,500 in three Regional Assembly areas and Western Region.

Source: Project Ireland 2040 National Planning Framework, Appendix 2 (Western Region own calculations)

The low ratio for towns in the Eastern and Midland indicates the importance of commuting for many towns and the dominance of the large Dublin City region.  Indeed only 2 towns in EMRA have ratios higher than 1.5.  These are Longford (1.596) and Athlone (1.591) both of which are on the periphery of the EMRA, less under the influence of Dublin, and both have important employment and wider service functions for their hinterlands.  In contrast, 40 towns in the EMRA (just over half) have a ratio of less than 0.5.  In the NWRA area, where there are 44 settlements with a population of more than 1,500,  7 towns have a ratio of more than 1.5 while 4 have a ratio of less than 0,5.  In the Southern Region, with three key cities, a quarter of towns (19) have a ratio of less than 0.5, while 7 towns (9%) have a ratio of greater than 1.5.

Looking at the Western Region (the area under the WDC remit), the overall ratio is very high (1.26) and of the 39 listed 7 have a ratio of more than 1.5 while four have a ratio of less than 0.5.

Cities and Key Regional Centres

Given the focus on the development of cities and a few key regional centres in the National Planning Framework, it is useful to examine the ratios for the five cities and these regional growth centres (Table 2).  Somewhat surprisingly, Dublin City and its suburbs has a ratio of only 0.978 despite being the major centre for the Region.  This is likely to be related to the location of the boundaries of the suburbs and the fact that there is a larger Dublin Region agglomeration which has a spread of job locations and worker flows to towns that are essentially part of a greater Dublin.

As expected, the other four cities have ratios greater than 1.0, with Galway the highest of these (1.302).  Looking at the proposed regional growth centres, Athlone, Letterkenny and Sligo all have high ratios indicating their importance as employment and service centres in their wider hinterlands.  In contrast Drogheda and Dundalk (which are mentioned in the NPF as part of a “Drogheda-Dundalk-Newry” cross border network) both have lower ratios. Drogheda, in particular, has many people travelling to work elsewhere.

Table 2: Population, Resident Workers, Jobs and ratio of Jobs to Resident Workers in Cities and Regional Growth Centres.

Source: Project Ireland 2040 National Planning Framework, Appendix 2, (EMRA towns in purple, NRWA in green and SRA in blue).

 

Patterns of employment and residence in the Western Region

Looking briefly at towns in the Western Region, Table 3 shows the settlements with the highest jobs to resident workers ratios in the Region.  There is no particular pattern relating to town size, but the top five are all ‘county towns’ and have particular local employment and service functions.  Other towns in the top ten often have key employers indicating the importance of employment spread.

Table 3: Population, Resident Workers, Jobs and ratio of Jobs to Resident Workers in ten Western Region settlements with highest jobs to resident worker ratios.

Source: Project Ireland 2040 National Planning Framework, Appendix 2 (NRWA in green and SRA in blue)

In contrast to the towns in the table above, Table 4 below shows the Western Region towns with the lowest job to resident worker ratios.  These are all ‘dormitory’ towns serving Galway, Sligo and Limerick.  These are the only towns in the Western Region which have a ratio of less than 0.5 indicating perhaps, aside from these, a more sustainable region in terms of commuting patterns.

Table 4: Population, Resident Workers, Jobs and ratio of Jobs to Resident Workers in five Western Region settlements with lowest jobs to resident worker ratios.

Source: Project Ireland 2040 National Planning Framework, Appendix 2 (NRWA in green and SRA in blue)

Conclusions

Understanding where people work and where people are most likely to travel to work is essential to our understanding of employment and economic activity in our Region.  The WDC will publish a detailed analysis of travel to work patterns and labour market catchments in the Western Region next month. It is based on data from Census 2016 will also provide a comparison the 2009 WDC study Travel to Work and Labour Catchments in the Western Region which used Census 2006 data.

The use of the jobs to resident workforce ratio in the NPF is interesting.  It is quite a restricted indicator but the variation in the ratio among towns of all sizes and across the different regions serves to emphasise that the individual employment and other characteristics of each town are the key to the town’s pattern of, and opportunities for, development.  Therefore a clear understanding of the functions and areas which each town can develop is important.

For the Western Region, the ratio has served to highlight the importance of towns of all sizes as centres of employment in the region, while in contrast it shows the importance of commuting to many towns in the East.  Thus, there is a need for very different regional strategies in relation to towns in the North West and in areas of other regions where the influence of the cities is not significant.

A strong argument is made throughout the NPF that concentration in larger cities and towns is essential, but this data indicates that, in the Western Region at least, smaller towns often have high jobs to resident workers ratios and they are attracting workers, probably from their rural catchments.  It is therefore important that we consider the case for ensuring a wider spread of employment across towns of different sizes and develop better policies to do so.  If there is too much focus on the largest cities we risk replicating the problems in the East, where many towns have little function other than as dormitories for the cities.

Locating jobs where workers reside, and supporting those urban centres which have important local and regional functions could be a more sustainable approach and perhaps would be easier to achieve than concentrating residence in the largest urban centres.

 

Helen McHenry

 

Developing a Strategy for the Northern and Western Region

The Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy for the Northern and Western Region will implement the targets set out in the newly published National Planning Framework (NPF) Ireland 2040.  The WDC recently made a submission on the Issues Paper for the Strategy for the Northern and Western region and it can be downloaded here (or you can read the summary here).

The Northern and Western Region probably has the most challenging targets to meet in Ireland 2040 with a target of a population increase of 160,000-180,000 people and 115,000 jobs in the region.  However, when broken down into annual growth rates over the next 21 years (2019-2040) the targets appear more manageable,  For example the target that larger towns should grow by 40% to 2040 is an annualised growth rate of 1.62% p.a. for 21 years while rural population growth of 15% over the period amounts to less one percent (0.67%) annual growth.  Galway, which has the largest growth target of 50-60% to achieve a population of at least 120,000 can do this with an annual growth rate of 1.95%.  Nonetheless, these are ambitious targets and achieving them will need considerable resources and direction.

Ireland 2040 also places a significant responsibility on the Northern and Western Regional Assembly (NWRA) in particular and the urban centres of Galway, Sligo and Letterkenny, as well as other large towns, as the key drivers in the region.  Some of these urban centres, which are targeted for 40% growth in the NWRA area, are not very well connected though they may be well located to serve as a driver for their region. These towns need their connectivity improvements prioritised so that they have some chance to achieve the planned targets.

Successful, sustainable regional growth will require a clear Strategy with strong goals and objectives, appropriate resources, a well-developed implementation process and an implementation body with the capacity, resources and powers to achieve co-ordinated action.

Population & Employment

As was noted throughout the WDC submission, the solution to maintaining and growing the regional population is the availability of employment, which in turn requires supporting policy for infrastructural development, a strategy for education and skills and stimulation of entrepreneurship and enterprise growth.  Infrastructure, the ‘3Es’ (Enterprise, Employment and Education) and Innovation are the key levers for regional development.  When they work together they drive regional growth.  Each has a distinctive role, and needs its own policy focus, but they are most effective when addressed through an integrated policy approach.

The RSES should be explicit on the targeted location of jobs within the Northern & Western Region and the balance between jobs growth in Galway city, large towns and the rest of the Region.  These targets should be supported by a clear statement on how employment growth at different spatial scales will be facilitated and supported through the RSES.  It is important that the Strategy is clearly focused on creating real opportunities to keep people living in the region and to attract more people, whether to cities, towns or rural areas.

It should be remembered that during the early part of this century (2000-2007), when there was rapid economic growth throughout Ireland, rural areas responded rapidly with significant increases in the numbers employed and in workforce participation and, in turn, in local populations.  The region is ready to respond and targeted policies to stimulate employment and entrepreneurship will help to achieve targets.

The urban hierarchy

Specific details of the role to be played by different areas in the Region’s settlement hierarchy and the investments needed for these areas to fulfil their roles must be included in the Strategy.

In order to ensure that Galway city, the strategically located regional centres of Sligo and Letterkenny, other towns and rural areas all fulfil their regional development potential, with service and infrastructure levels appropriate to each type of area, investment at the appropriate scale needs to happen in all these places.  Too often a strategy is made which is supposed to be for all people and areas, but the focus becomes that of cities and other areas are left without appropriate investment.

In the Northern and Western Region there are only 5 towns (and Galway city, as well as part of Athlone) which have a population of more than 10,000, yet it is a relatively large region in the Irish context.  Therefore the Strategy should focus on the function of towns and the role they pay in their hinterland, rather than being too concerned with population size as a criterion for investment.

The nature and role of the smaller towns including county towns must be considered in more detail in the RSES and in County Development Plans.  It is important to be aware, in the context of the Strategy that these towns, as well as being important drivers of their local economy, are also essential to those living in other even smaller less serviced towns, in villages or in the wider countryside.

Although smaller towns can face significant challenges they also have key assets such as cultural heritage, historic buildings, local businesses and high levels of social capital.  These all provide opportunities for diversification and adaptation of the town and its social network to embrace future opportunities, whether it is improved tourism product, attracting people to live there, or developing knowledge and sectoral clusters such as creative industries.  Many towns have strong indigenous industries which may be exporting and a substantial number have some small scale foreign direct investment.  There are other enterprises and employers too, and important local services sectors and small scale manufacturing serving a local market.  These are very significant parts of the local economy and important local employers.  All of these can be leveraged to support the development of local communities.

Brexit

Brexit is a key strategic issue for the Northern and Western Region.  Cross-border linkages including cross-border commuting, access to services, retail and trade are areas which will undergo massive changes in the context of Brexit.  Planning for how to mitigate the impact of Brexit on border communities and the economy of the Border region in particular must be a core priority of the RSES.

Conclusions

Development of a strong regional spatial and economic strategy for the Northern and Western region will require coordination with central government, local authorities, enterprise agencies, and alignment with the Action Plan for Jobs and the Action Plan for Rural Development as they are developed over time.   The involvement of education providers, employers and people in the region will all be needed to ensure the targets are achieved.  The Strategy should be appropriately resourced (with money, expertise and time, as well as involvement of key stakeholders).  It would be better to have a more focused, limited strategy that can be implemented than a vision which is beyond the possibility of effective implementation.

Of course, the Issues Paper is just the first stage in the process of developing a Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy for the Northern and Western region.  There are many steps to be gone through, and further consultation, before the Northern and Western Regional Assembly publish a final Strategy, hopefully before the end of the year.

Detailed answers to the questions in the Issues Paper and consideration of specific needs are in the full WDC submission and an overview of key points in the summary.

 

EI and IDA End of Year Results 2017

Two of the main enterprise development agencies in Ireland recently issued their end of year results for 2017.

Enterprise Ireland

Enterprise Ireland issued their end of year statement on 3rd January.  In total, 209,338 people are employed in companies supported by EI.  19,332 new jobs were created by EI-backed companies in 2017.  Enterprise Ireland supports Irish-owned, export focused enterprises.

The end of year results include details at a county level. Fig. 1 shows the total number of jobs in EI-backed companies within the seven counties of the Western Region.  In total there were 23,550 EI-backed jobs in companies based in the Western Region. This represented 11.2% of all EI-backed jobs nationally.

Fig. 1: Total Jobs in Enterprise Ireland backed companies in Western Region counties, 2017. Source: https://www.enterprise-ireland.com/en/News/PressReleases/

The total net change in jobs in EI-backed companies in the Western Region was 1,472 (see Table 1). This represented a 7% net change on job numbers in 2016.  The growth in the Western Region was higher than the national average (5%). This was driven by strong growth in Leitrim, Sligo and Galway, which were the counties with the highest percentage growth nationally. As such, the Western Region accounted for 14.2% of the net growth nationally, higher than its share of total EI-backed jobs, indicating a strong performance in western counties.

Table 1: Net Change (gains less losses) in Total Jobs in Enterprise Ireland backed companies in Western Region counties, 2017

Source: https://www.enterprise-ireland.com/en/News/PressReleases/

While these results are very positive for the region, it is important to put them in a wider context. While the Western Region accounts for 11.2% of all EI-backed jobs nationally, this is below the Region’s 16.6% share of total national employment (Census 2016).  While these figures are not directly comparable (EI figures are based on the location of the firm and refer to 2017, Census figures are based on the location of the individual and refer to 2016) they do indicate that the Western Region’s share of EI-backed jobs considerably lags its share of total employment.

While EI-backed jobs account for approximately 10% of total job numbers nationally, for the Western Region they only account for about 7% of the total (calculated as the number of EI-backed jobs in 2017 as a % of total employment as counted in Census 2016).

This means that Government policy needs to build on and strengthen the very impressive performance of 2017 to ensure a growing role for high-value indigenous companies in the Western Region labour market.

Industrial Development Agency (IDA) Ireland

IDA Ireland issued their end of year statement on 4th January.  In total, employment levels in IDA supported, foreign owned companies reached 210,443 in 2017.  19,851 (net) new jobs were created by IDA-backed companies in 2017.

The end of year results do not include county data, but do include job figures at regional level. Fig. 2 shows the number of IDA-backed jobs in each region. It is important to note that these are based on the location of the firm, so for example some of the people who work in the Dublin & Mid-East region may be living in the Midlands or Border and commuting to work.

Fig. 2: Total Jobs in IDA backed companies by Region, 2017. Source: https://www.idaireland.com/IDAIreland/media/docs/IDA-Results-2017-Presentation.pdf

Nationally the number of IDA-backed jobs grew by 5.2% between 2016 and 2017.  The South-East region experienced the strongest growth at 9.2% with Dublin & Mid-East the second highest (5.7%).

Of the regions relevant to the Western Region, the Mid-West (5.3%) and West (5.1%) experienced job increases similar to the State average, however at just 3.6% the Border region had a weak performance. Brexit presents significant challenges for this region, so its poor performance is a cause for concern.  The Midlands, which has the smallest number of IDA-backed jobs, also experienced the lowest growth at 1.2%.

More detailed data on agency assisted employment in EI and IDA backed companies, as well as those supported by Udarás na Gaeltachta will be published by the Department of Business, Enterprise & Innovation in its Annual Employment Survey later in the year. This will allow differentiation between ‘Permanent Full-time Jobs’ and ‘Part-time/Temporary Jobs’ which are combined in the ‘Total Jobs’ figures here, as well as more detailed sectoral analysis at regional level.

 

Census 2016: The Western Region’s Labour Market – in pictures!

As the final Census 2016 Profile ‘Employment, Occupations and Industry’ was published by the CSO last week, we now have a pretty good picture of the Western Region’s labour market in 2016.  The Western Development Commission (WDC) has today published an infographic on some interesting facts about the Western Region’s labour market.

This is the second in a series of infographics to be published using data from the Census and focusing on the Western Region – the seven counties under the remit of the WDC.  The aim is to make key regional statistics available in an easily accessible manner.

In this infographic we show that:

  • The Western Region had 17.4% of the State population in 2016, 16.6% of all employment and 19.5% of all self-employment
  • There are over 100,000 retired people living in the Western Region
  • Industry is the biggest employment sector in the Western Region and also enjoyed the biggest gain in employment between 2011 and 2016

You can download ‘The Western Region’s Labour Market’ infographic here

Where do Western Region Residents work? Census 2016 Results

The Western Development Commission (WDC) has just published a new WDC Insights publication which examines the place of work of workers living in the Western Region. There are also eight accompanying Word documents each examining the Place of Work of each county’s residents and the Place of Residence of each county’s workforce, all based on data from Census 2016.

Key findings from this WDC Insights publication include

  • More Western Region workers now leave the region for work.
  • In 2016, 7 out of every 10 workers (71.5%) living in the Western Region, work within the Region, a decline since 2011 (73.2%).
  • Over 4,200 Western Region residents travel to work in Dublin, up by 16.9% since 2011.
  • A further 1.4% (4,677) of workers resident in the Western Region work abroad.
  • Of the workplace destinations within Ireland but outside the Western Region, the five counties of Limerick, Westmeath, Dublin, Derry and Longford are the most significant workplaces. These locations (apart from Dubin) border the Western Region, with Limerick city, Athlone and Longford town all likely to be important employment centres.
  • In 2016 the Region experienced a net loss of 17,565 workers who left the Region to work elsewhere. Compared to 2011, this is an increase in the number of workers leaving the Region to work, when there was a net loss of -14,939 residents working outside of the Region.

The eight individual city and county profiles can be downloaded from the links below. Each county profile is composed of two tables, with the exception of Galway city which has three. All data is from Census 2016 and Census 2011. These tables provide an overall view by county, of the flows between home and work for each of the counties of the Western Region.

  1. Table 1 identifies the Place of Work of each county’s residents.
  2. Table 2 sets out Place of Residence of each county’s workforce.
  3. Galway city only: Feeder towns into Galway city.

Selected findings include:

Clare: After Clare, Limerick is the most significant employment destination for County Clare residents.

Donegal: After County Donegal, Derry is the most significant employment destination for Donegal residents.

Galway City: Galway city has a net gain of nearly 16,000 people, of which a large proportion is likely to come from county Galway where there was a net loss of just over 16,000.

One fifth of workers living in Tuam commute to Galway city and suburbs to work (Table 3).

Galway County: One quarter of County Galway residents (25.3%) work in Galway city.

Leitrim: In 2016, 14.3% of workers in County Leitrim lived in County Roscommon.

Mayo: County Dublin was the place of work for 579 County Mayo residents in 2016.

Roscommon: Over 1,000 (1,034) workers in County Roscommon live in County Galway.

Sligo: Apart from Galway city, County Sligo was the only area with a net gain in working population in 2016 (+528).

Understanding where people work and where they live provides a more thorough understanding of the labour market and the choices people make. The trends suggest that while there is an increase in the number of Western Region residents in work, it is also evident that a greater number are commuting to work to places beyond the Western Region.   This analysis of the place or work and place of residence of workers in each individual county should be useful for local authorities, community groups and businesses in each county in planning for the future.

Individual Western Region county data is available at the links above.

Download this WDC Insights https://www.wdc.ie/publications/reports-and-papers/

 

Measuring Rural Employment

Much has been said and written about rural decline in Ireland particularly in the last few years. However despite this there are very few measures which capture ‘rural’ change in a statistical sense.

To date rural decline is often described in the context of rural challenges such as out migration, population loss and the withdrawal of services in rural areas but there are few statistical measures capturing trends in rural and urban areas, with the notable exception of rural and urban poverty rates reported in the CSO Survey of Income and living conditions (SILC).

Measuring rural employment – Regions

Measuring rural change in the context of job creation has focused on the observable change at NUTS3 level with the fortunes of the 8 regional authority areas reported regularly in the Regional Action Plans for Jobs. However, each of these 8 regions (Dublin, Mid East, West, South West, Midlands, North East/North West and South east), comprise both urban and rural areas of varying degrees.

It is clear that much of the recent job creation has been focussed on the cities and by only examining regional figures the significant differences between urban and rural areas are not captured. So for example in the case of the West region, much job creation is located in Galway city while counties Mayo and Roscommon would not have experienced the same degree of employment growth.

Rural Employment

Realising our Rural Potential Action Plan for Rural Development, download here published in January 2017, is the Government’s action plan aimed at ‘ensuring the success of vibrant rural communities’ and provides for 276 targeted actions across five themes. One of the main targets is the objective to support the creation of 135,000 jobs in rural Ireland.

However in monitoring the success of rural job creation, the measure reported is employment creation across the 8 NUTS3 regions, with rural classified as the 7 NUTS3 regions – excluding the Dublin region and as such is essentially a regional measure.

Defining rural

Possibly part of the reason for the lack of a measure of rural employment or unemployment is the difficulty in agreeing a measure of rural. Rural is defined in many ways – succinctly summarised in a recent WDC Insights blogpost What is Rural?

The CSO measure of Rural used in the CSO SILC since 2014 defines urban as areas with a population density of greater than 1,000 and rural as those areas with a population density of 999 or less.

Rural employment

Very recently the CSO have provided data from the Quarterly National Household Survey (QNHS) on employment and unemployment by NUTS3 region and broken down by densely, intermediate and thinly populated areas.  This is based on a Eurostat definition based on degree of urbanisation, with three categories, densely, intermediate and thinly populated areas. See here for the detailed definition.

Under this measure, the entire Dublin region is all classed as densely populated, while the Border region for example has no densely populated category and is only composed of intermediate and thinly populated areas.

The Table below shows the unemployment rates for the Border and State by type of population area in 2014 and 2017.

Table 1. ILO unemployment rates, Border region and State and type of Population Area, 2014 and 2017

Source CSO, QNHS Q2 2014 and 2017, Special run.

Nationally the unemployment rate in 2014 was 10.9% in densely populated areas, compared to 12.2% in thinly populated areas, but the highest rate is in the intermediate area – 12.4%.

With the exception of the densely populated area in the South-East, the intermediate area in the Border region has the highest unemployment rate in 2014, 16.2%, compared to 12.0 % in the thinly populated area. There is no densely populated category within the Border region- counties Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, Cavan, Monaghan and Louth.

By 2017 there is some evidence of convergence across regions and areas, with unemployment rates declining across all categories. Nationally the rate is 6.4%, while the unemployment rate for the Border region is 6.6%. However the intermediate area in the Border remains the area with the highest levels of unemployment across all categories with 9.6%.

The intermediate areas, broadly defined as Towns and suburbs (see here for the detailed definition), are the areas most impacted by unemployment, though there are regional differences.

As such this CSO measure of economic status based on the QNHS data with trend data at NUTS3 and with a rural/urban dimension is a valuable tool. It provides a measure of rural change which is more nuanced and which can provide better insights than relying exclusively on the NUTS3 Regional measure.

 

Employment by economic sector in western counties: what’s happening?

A few weeks ago, the WDC published eight new WDC Insights publications.  Each examined 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). This data was the focus of a previous blog post.  They also examine the sectors where the county’s residents work, compared with the national average, and how this has changed since 2011.

In this blog post, I’ll focus on the sectoral pattern of employment in each of the western counties.  It is important to remember that this data counts a person where they live rather than where they work, so it measures what sectors the residents of a county work in, even though some may commute to another county (or country) to work.  Analysis of commuting patterns in the Western Region will be published very shortly.

Scroll down to find your county! (Apologies for any repetition, assuming most readers will only pick a county or two …)

1.  Clare

Total employment in Clare grew by 8.6% between 2011 and 2016, below the 11% State average.  The top three sectors for employment of Clare residents are: Industry, Wholesale & Retail and Health & Social Work, which together account for 36.5% of all jobs.

Industry employs a significantly higher percentage of the workforce in County Clare than nationally.  Numbers working in Industry have risen by 10.4% — or 723 people — in the past five years, outperforming the national average growth. This means that today 15.5% of Clare’s residents who are in employment are working in Industry, which includes sectors such as manufacturing, energy generation, waste and water. This compares to the national average of 11.4%.

Wholesale & Retail includes wholesale, the motor trade, all retails shops, with supermarkets forming the biggest sector. Employment in Wholesale & Retail in Clare, at 11.2%, is lower than the national average of 13.3%.

A 12.4% growth in the Health & Social Work sector in Clare was just slightly below the national average (12.9%). Health & Social Work includes residential care and social services – including child care, nursing and care homes – as well as hospitals, dental and medical practices.

A growth in tourism is reflected in employment in the Accommodation and Food Service sector, which is up 13.5%, the second highest growth sector in the county. It is also seen in a 10.1% growth in employment in the Transport and Storage sector, influenced by Shannon Airport and Shannon Foynes Port. It places Clare well above the national average growth of 4%.

The biggest increase in employment was in the Information and Communications sector – which includes areas such as computer programming and consultancy as well as telecommunications — which grew by 13.9% in the past five years.

Employment in agriculture has declined by 8.7% in the county, compared to a national drop of 2.6%.  Administrative and Other Services — including leasing activities, business operations processing and personal services — accounts for just over 7% of Clare’s employment, slightly below the national average but the highest in the Western Region.  An 8% drop in numbers employed in financial services, is being linked to the closure of banks and other financial institutions.

2.  Donegal

Total employment in Donegal grew by 9.5% between 2011 and 2016, below the 11% State average.  The four top employers of Donegal residents – accounting for more than 46% of all jobs are: Wholesale & Retail, Health & Social Work, Education and Industry.

The Wholesale & Retail sector, which grew by just 0.9% in the past five years, is the principal employer of Donegal residents, employing 13.5% of working adults, with supermarkets the largest employer in this sector.

Some 12.7% are employed in Health & Social Work compared to 11.1% elsewhere. Health & Social Work includes residential care and social services – including child care, nursing and care homes – as well as hospitals, dental and medical practices.

A total of 10.8% of workers are employed in the Education sector compared to the national average of 8.8%. Between pre-school, primary, secondary and higher education, there are 6,328 people working in Education in county Donegal.

Unlike other western counties, Industry is substantially less important in Donegal than nationally, with just 9.2% of workers employed in this sector compared to 11.4% nationally.

Donegal’s strongest employment growth was in the Information and Communications sector, increasing by 39%, compared to national growth of 31.4%. This sector includes computer programming, computer consultancy, telecommunications, as well as radio broadcasting.

Benefit from the Wild Atlantic Way is reflected in an impressive growth of 19.9% in the Accommodation and Food Service sector compared with a 12.9% national growth, giving Donegal the third highest share working in this sector nationally, after Kerry and Galway City. In the past five years, there has been an additional 764 people employed in the hospitality sector, mainly in restaurants and hotels.

The data also shows a 9.3% growth in employment in Construction — significantly lower than the national average growth of 16.6%. The largest decline in employment over the past five years was in Public Administration (local authority, civil service, defence etc.) which dropped 14.2% compared to a national decline of 6.3% although it remains a more significant employer than elsewhere. There was a decline of 9% in employment in financial services compared with a national average decline of 1.3%. This is linked to the closure of banks and other financial institutions.

3.  Galway City

Total employment in Galway City grew by 10.8% between 2011 and 2016, close to the 11% State average.  Industry, Health & Social Work, and Wholesale & Retail are the top three employers, accounting for almost 40% of jobs for Galway City residents.

Industry is the most significant employer.  There was a 15.4% growth in Industry employment among Galway City residents since 2011, substantially higher than the national average of 9.4%. Industry accounts for a significantly higher proportion of jobs than nationally, 14.6% compared to 11.4% nationally.  In the single manufacturing field of medical devices, jobs for Galway City residents rose by 543 to 2,873 in the past five years.

Jobs in Health which include child, elder, residential care as well as hospitals and medical practices, also outperformed, growing by 16.4% for the City compared to a 13.4% national growth.

The Wholesale and Retail sector grew 2.4% in the City between 2011 and 2016 higher than the 1.7% national growth, though it only employs 12.3% of workers compared to a national average of 13.3%.

Although the 11.1% growth in the Accommodation and Food Service sector in the City was below the 12.9% national average in the past five years, Galway City is second only to Kerry when it comes to the share of residents working in hospitality. Almost 10% work in this sector compared to the national average of 5.8%.

Galway City’s strongest employment growth in the past five years was in Information and Communications — up 36% compared with 31.4% nationally — bringing it up to 6.1% of total employment, greater than the national average share of 4.5%.

Jobs in Public Administration declined by 12.5% in Galway City compared to a national average decline of 6.3%. Decline of 10.7% in employment in Financial, Insurance and Real Estate compared to a 1.3% decline nationally, is being linked to the closure of banks and other financial institutions.

4.  Galway County

Total employment in Galway County grew by 8.5% between 2011 and 2016, below the 11% State average.  Industry, Health & Social Work and Wholesale & Retail are the top three employers, accounting for almost 43% of jobs for residents of Galway County.

Industry has emerged as the most significant employer for Galway County residents which has the fourth highest share working in Industry nationally.  The 20.7% growth in employment in the sector over the past five years is more than twice the national average (9.4%).  Industry accounts for a significantly higher proportion of jobs for Galway County residents than nationally, 16.3%, compared with 11.4%.  In the single manufacturing field of medical devices, jobs for Galway County residents rose by 1,173 to 4,951 in the past three years.

Jobs in Health which include child, elder, residential care as well as hospitals and medical practices, also outperformed, growing by 17.4% in the County, compared to a 13.4% national growth.

The Wholesale and Retail sector declined by 0.4% compared to a national increase of 1.7% and employs 12% of workers in Galway County.

Tourism activity is increasing in Galway County which registered a 13.3% growth in employment in the Accommodation and Food Service sector, slightly above the 12.9% national growth.  The Information and Communications sector accounted for Galway County’s second strongest employment growth of 18.7%.

A decline of 7.6% in employment in Financial, Insurance and Real Estate compared to a 1.3% decline nationally, is being linked to the closure of banks and other financial institutions. Galway County experienced a 6.8% decline in employment in agriculture compared to a 2.6% national decline.

5.  Leitrim

Total employment in Leitrim grew by 6.3% between 2011 and 2016, substantially below the 11% State average and the fifth lowest growth of any county in Ireland. The top three employment sectors for Leitrim’s residents are: Health & Social Work; Wholesale & Retail; and Industry, which account for 37.1% of all jobs.

Employment in Health grew by 10.6% since 2011, below the national average of 13.4%. Health and Social Work includes residential care and social services — including child care, nursing and care homes — as well as hospitals, dental and medical practices. Reflecting the county’s aging population, the biggest growth area was in residential care where an additional 207 jobs were created.

Employment in the second largest sector of Wholesale and Retail is less important to the county than elsewhere at 12.1% and grew marginally since 2011 by 0.6%. Wholesale and Retail includes wholesale, the motor trade, all retails shops, with supermarkets forming the biggest sector.

Meanwhile, Industry employment rose by 21.1%, more than double the national average of 9.4%.  Industry includes manufacturing, energy generation, waste, water – with manufacturing the largest element. Some 127 additional jobs were created in the medical devices field alone in the past five years. Some 11.4% of the county’s workers are working in Industry.

Agriculture’s share of employment in Leitrim is double the national average, contributing to the county’s higher self-employment, but the numbers are on the decline. It was one of four sectors that experienced employment decline in the county since 2011, down 8.6% compared with a State average decline of 2.7%.

Leitrim’s largest employment decline was in the Administrative and Other Services sector, which includes call centres.  Construction jobs rose by 7.2%, significantly lower than the national average increase of 16.6%. Leitrim performed on a par with other counties in the Accommodation and Food Service sector, which enjoyed Leitrim’s second highest growth of 12.4%.  There was a 10% drop in numbers employed in financial services.

6.  Mayo

Total employment in Mayo grew by 4.8% between 2011 and 2016, substantially below the 11% State average and the second lowest growth of any county in Ireland. The top three employment sectors for Mayo residents are: Wholesale & Retail; Industry; and Health & Social Work, which account for 36.5% of all jobs.

Topping the list with a 14.4% share of employment is the Wholesale & Retail sector. However, this sector has been performing poorly and declined 2.7% in Mayo compared with a 1.7% growth nationally between 2011 and 2016.

But Industry grew strongly in the county over the same period, increasing employment by 14% since 2011, compared to the 9.4% growth nationally. Industry currently accounts for a 14.2% share of Mayo’s workers, compared with an 11.4% share nationally.

Employment in the Health sector grew by 15.7% compared with a national rise of 13.4%, the county’s strongest growing sector. An additional 593 jobs in the residential care field during this period reflects the county’s older age profile.

Almost twice the national average (8.5% compared with 4.4%) are employed in agriculture but employment in this sector has plummeted. There are over 1,000 fewer farmers now than five years ago, representing a decline of 17.9%, compared to an average State decline of 2.6%.

Since 2011, employment in the Accommodation and Food Service sector is up 11.7%, now representing 7.6% of the total workforce, compared to a national average of 5.8%.

Employment in Public Administration declined more in Mayo than elsewhere, dropping 10.1% in five years compared to a 6.3% national decline.  Construction jobs were up by 8.4%, compared to a national increase of 16.6% but it still remains a significant employer in the county, accounting for 6.3% of all jobs. Mayo saw its biggest jobs loss, an 18.8% decline, in financial services, compared to a national decline of 1.3% in the same sector. This is linked to the closure of bank branches and other financial institutions.

7.  Roscommon

Total employment in Roscommon grew by 5.9% between 2011 and 2016, substantially below the 11% State average and the fourth lowest growth of any county in Ireland. The top three sectors for employment of Roscommon residents are: Wholesale & Retail, Health & Social Work and Industry, which account for 40% of all jobs.

Wholesale and Retail at 13.9% is the most significant employer but jobs in this sector have declined slightly (0.9%) in the past five years compared to a national increase of 1.7%.

Industry, which was up by 15.9%, outperformed the national average increase of 9.4%. Included here was an additional 228 jobs in the manufacture of medical devices.

Employment in the Health and Social Work sector in Roscommon grew by 24.4% in the past five years, compared with a national rise of 13.4%.  As this sector includes child and elder care, the county’s age profile could be a factor. An additional 539 jobs were created in the residential care branch of this sector during the period 2011 – 2016.

Agriculture’s share of employment in Roscommon is close to double the national average, contributing to the county’s higher self-employment. However, employment in agriculture was down 3.9% in the past five years, higher than the State average decline of 2.7%.

Employment in Public Administration is down by 7% while a 13% decline in jobs in Financial Services is linked to closures of local banks and other financial institutions. Jobs in the Accommodation and Food Services sector grew only marginally by 1.4% compared to a national growth of 12.9% indicating that the county is not benefitting from a growth in tourism.

Though the smallest sector, employment in Information and Communications grew by 20.1%, while Professional Services employment was up by 13.2%.

8.  Sligo

Total employment in Sligo grew by 2.2% between 2011 and 2016, substantially below the 11% State average and the lowest growth of any county in Ireland.  The top three employment sectors for Sligo residents are: Health & Social Work, Wholesale & Retail and Industry, which account for 40.7% of all jobs.

Health is considerably more important to the county than elsewhere and Sligo has the highest share working in this sector in the State. This sector – which includes residential care and child care as well as hospitals — employs 15.5% of Sligo’s workers, compared to a national average of 11.1%.

Employment in Wholesale and Retail, the second largest employer at 12.7%, performed poorly, declining by 5.9% since 2011, in contrast to a national average growth of 1.7% in this sector. It accounts for a lower share of jobs than elsewhere.

At 12.5%, Industry accounts for a higher share of jobs than in neighbouring Leitrim and Donegal, but its growth of 0.3% in the past five years falls significantly below the national average growth of 9.4%.  Industry includes manufacturing, energy generation, waste, water – with manufacturing the largest element.

Agriculture performed strongly with jobs in this sector growing by 8.5% compared to a national decline of 2.6%. This was in part due to an additional 162 jobs created in the animal and mixed farming sector.

Employment in Education was up by 4.7%, while jobs in the Accommodation and Food Service sector grew by 7.8%, compared with a 12.9% national growth.  Employment in Public Administration was down by 4.5%, a better performance than the national drop of 6.3%.

Sligo saw a decrease of 0.3% in jobs in the Construction sector, compared to a strong national growth of 16.6%.  Sligo’s highest employment growth was in the Administrative and Other Services sector at 9.2% with arts and entertainment, as well as hairdressing and beauty, the main drivers.  A 14.1% drop in numbers employed in financial services, compared with a 1.3% decline nationally, is being linked to the closure of banks and other financial institutions.

 

All eight WDC Insights can be downloaded here