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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

 

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

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

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

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

1.  Clare

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

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

2.  Donegal

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

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

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

3.  Galway City

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

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

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

4.  Galway County

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

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

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

5.  Leitrim

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

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

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

6.  Mayo

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

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

7.  Roscommon

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

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

8.  Sligo

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

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

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

All eight WDC Insights can be downloaded here

Commuting in the Western Region

Census 2016 results, Profile 6 has highlighted some key trends in relation to commuting patterns across the country. What are the trends in the Western Region and how do they compare with the national picture?

More commuting to work

The number of people living in the Western Region and commuting to work in 2016 was 306,359, an increase of 7.4% (21,136) since 2011, somewhat less than the national increase of 10.7% over the five year period.

Within the Western Region all counties experienced an increase in workers commuting though only Galway city experienced a rate of increase that exceeded the national average (11.7%). This was followed by County Galway (9.5%), Donegal (8.8%), Clare (7.4%) and Leitrim (6.3%). Counties Roscommon (6%), Mayo (4.4%) and Sligo (1.2%), all had increases, though well below the national average.

Travel to work in the Western Region

Commuting by car

  • Most commuters in the Western Region travel to work by car (72.4%[1]), either as a driver or passenger – less than 7% of car commuters are passengers. Nationally 65.6% of workers commute to work by car to work, a decrease from 66.3% in 2011. As the numbers at work has increased over the period, this indicates an even greater change than the percentage share might suggest.
  • In the Western Region the share travelling by car stayed the same – 72.4% since 2011, but as the numbers employed have increased (excluding not stated, by 21,478 or 7.4%)  it indicates a greater number of people in the Western Region are travelling by car than in 2011,(+15,816 or 7.5%) the opposite trend to that occurring nationally.
  • Within the Western Region, all counties had a minimum of 71% of commuters travelling by car, ranging from a high of 75% in Clare to 71.8% in Mayo. Only Galway city had a lower share of car commuters – 61.9% – reflecting the greater public transport availability and more walking and cycling options there.

Public Transport

  • In the Western Region the share of commuters using public transport increased from 1.8% in 2011 to 2.1% in 2016, while nationally, the share of commuters using public transport increased from 8.4% to 9.3%. All counties showed a percentage increase apart from counties Donegal and Mayo, though most change was marginal apart from Galway city.
  • All western counties had increases in the numbers both travelling by bus and train which given the extent of the train network in the region suggests many of those travelling by train are commuting to destinations outside the Region.

Cycling

  • In the Western Region, the share of those cycling to work increased from 1.1 to 1.3% between 2011 and 2016, while nationally the rate has increased from 2.3% to 3%. Within the Western Region all counties except Roscommon and Leitrim showed an increase in the numbers and percentage share of commuting by cycling to work.

Walking

  • Within the Western Region, there was a slight decline in the share of commuters walking to work, from 7.8% to 7.4%, though there was an actual increase of 440, obviously less than the rate of employment growth in the Region.
  • Nationally there was a decline in the share of commuters walking to work, from 9.9% to 9.3%, though this masks an actual increase of over 4,500 persons walking to work. Within the Region, Galway city has the highest rate of walking to work, 17.2% in 2016 up from 17% in 2011.

Longer journey times to work – more congested routes or longer distances travelled?

  • Of the over 300,000 people in the Western Region travelling to work, nearly 30% (29.9%) had a journey time of less than ¼ hour while a further 29.7% have a journey time of between ¼ and ½ hour, see Figure 1 below.
  • This indicates a majority of workers living in the Western Region (59.6%) have a journey time of less than ½ hour, less than in 2011 (61.9%) indicating people’s journey times have become longer.

Figure 1. Percentage Share of Working Population and Time Travelled to Work, 2016

Source: CSO statbank. Profile 6, Commuting Table E6023.

Nationally 52.2% of workers have a journey time of between ¼ and ½ hour in 2016, a decline in the share in 2011 of 55.9%. The extent to which people are travelling longer distances or travel times are longer, (because of congestion due to the greater numbers travelling), is less clear.

Within the Western Region, workers living in Galway city and Sligo have the shortest journey times, with 67.4% and 66.6% respectively with a travel time of less than ½ hour. Close to two-thirds of workers in Donegal (64.7%) and Mayo (63.8%) have journey times to work of less than ½ hour.

The share of commuters with journey times of less than ½ hour is less in the counties of Roscommon (59.7%), Clare (59.1%), Leitrim (55%) and County Galway (47.6%), indicating generally longer commutes for people living in these counties.

In the case of workers living in County Galway, 34.1% have a journey time of between ½ and 1 hour, while a further 8% have a journey time of between 1 hour and 90 minutes suggesting many are travelling some distance and/or travelling on congested routes into Galway city.

Further analysis, examining where people work and the extent to which they travel for work will be examined in forthcoming WDC policy analysis.

 

Deirdre Frost

 

[1] This excludes the ‘not stated’ category.

Employment by Sector in the Western Region & its counties

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

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

Some of the main findings are:

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

Both publications can be downloaded here

Home-Based Working in the Western Region

The Western Development Commission (WDC) has published its latest WDC Insights Home-Based Working in the Western Region,

download here (267 KB):, which is the third in a series examining the current nature of work, focussing on work which is often home based.

Working at or from home can take different forms:

  • The WDC Policy Briefing No.7 e-Working in the Western Region: A Review of the Evidence (download here – PDF 748KB), examined the extent of e-working in the Western Region, examining those in traditional employer-employee relationships, but who work from home, whether full-time or for a period during the working week. This form of working is also illustrated with several case studies of the practice, (download here – PDF 484KB).
  • The second publication in the series, WDC Insights ‘New Work’ – the Gig economy in the Western Region, (download here – PDF 254KB), examined the nature of the gig economy and the extent to which it exists in the Western Region.
  • This WDC Insights on Home-Based Working in the Western Region examines the data on those people who work ‘mainly at or from home’ derived from the Census question ‘how do you usually travel to work?’ with one of the answers being ‘work mainly at or from home’
  • According to the Census, nationally, in 2011[1] excluding those working in the Agriculture, forestry & fishing industries[2], the share of the state’s working population reported as working mainly at or from home was 2.8% (47,127).

In the Western Region the share was higher with 3.2% (8,994) stating they worked mainly at or from home.

There is a higher rate of self-employment in the Western Region and this is likely to be a contributory factor.

  • Those working mainly at or from home represent a broad range of workers; the self-employed, employees, ‘gig’ workers and e-Workers across a broad range of sectors. They may have very little in common except their place of work, which is less visible than traditional work places.

Better data is needed to capture and measure the incidence of all types of work so as to ensure that our policy focus is not limited to the traditional workplace-based employer-employee relationship.

Policies are needed to support all employment types and evidence of the nature and extent of work that occurs in the home is required to inform this.

 

Deirdre Frost

[1]Census of Population 2011, the most recent Census data available. Census 2016 data will be available in September 2017.

[2] The rest of the data presented in this WDC Policy Briefing exclude those working in the Agriculture, forestry & fishing industries, in order to understand the prevalence of e-working in the wider economy. The WDC wish to thank the CSO for a special run of data excluding those working in the Agriculture, forestry & fishing industries.

Census 2016: Principal Economic Status in the Western Region

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

The summary results include data on:

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

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

What is Principal Economic Status?

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

PES in the Western Region 2016

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

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

Change in economic status in the Western Region 2011-2016

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

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

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

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

Economic Status in the Western Region by gender

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

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

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

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

Economic status in the Western Region compared with State

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

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

Economic status in different area types

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

Pauline White

What are the levers for effective regional development?

‘What are the levers for effective regional development?’  was one of the most interesting questions posed recently by the Department of Housing, Planning, Community & Local Government in its recent ‘Issues and Choices’ consultation paper for the National Planning Framework.

In our WDC Submission to the consultation, we drew on previous WDC analysis including the WDC Policy Briefings ‘Why care about regions? A new approach to regional policy’, ‘Education, Enterprise & Employment – How Can Better Integration Of The 3Es Drive Growth In The Western Region?’ and ‘e-Working in the Western Region: A Review of the Evidence’ to answer this question.

In our submission we argue that Infrastructure, the ‘3Es’ (Enterprise, Employment and Education) and Innovation are the key levers for effective regional development.   The central aim of regional policy, the National Planning Framework and the upcoming Regional Economic & Spatial Strategies should be to provide the conditions for regions to grow and realise their full potential.  Developing infrastructure, the 3Es and innovation is the way to do this.  When these three areas complement and support each other, 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 regional policy approach.

Infrastructure

Investment in infrastructure has always played a prominent role in regional policy.  The expectation that improvements in physical infrastructure will generate productivity gains for local businesses and increase the attractiveness of an area for investment and for tourism has been a recurring theme.  Less developed regions need to have a similar quality of infrastructures for their residents and businesses as is available in more successful regions. Infrastructural connectivity has a critical influence on choice of location for both indigenous and foreign investors.  The Western Region, and particularly the North West, is disadvantaged in terms of several forms of infrastructure.  For example Sligo was the only NSS Gateway which was not connected to Dublin with a motorway under the Major Inter-Urban motorway investments between 2006 and 2010 and was the only NSS Gateway or Hub to have a 0 improvement in its ‘accessibility to employment’ score as a result of this period of intensive investment, according to research by Transport Infrastructure Ireland.

In its submission to the NPF, the WDC makes a range of specific recommendations in relation to infrastructural investments needed to facilitate development in the Western Region.  The proposed investments include transport (national roads, regional and local roads, public transport (rail and bus), air and ports), communications (broadband and mobile coverage) and energy (electricity and natural gas).  These infrastructure investments are also highlighted in the WDC’s submission to the Mid-Term Review of the Capital Plan.

While infrastructure is critical, OECD[1]  work emphasises that transport and other infrastructure developments are not enough by themselves; to have an impact on regional development they need to be associated with, and complemented by, human capital and innovation developments.

The ‘3Es’: Enterprise, Employment and Education

Regions are successful because enterprises in these regions are successful.  When enterprises grow, employment grows and this depends on skilled and educated people.  Policy to support the ‘3Es’ of enterprise, employment and education must work together at both national and regional level to create dynamic regions.[2]

One of the most important issues that needs to be recognised and addressed by the NPF is that narrow definitions of ‘job’, ‘work’ and ‘employer’ as a full-time permanent employee travelling every day to a specific work location is extremely limited and does not recognise either the current reality of ‘work’ or the dramatically changing patterns likely to emerge up to 2040. Self-employment, the ‘gig’ or ‘sharing’ economy, contract work, freelancing, e-Working, multiple income streams, online business are all trends that are dramatically redefining the conception of work, enterprise, and their physical location.

A study conducted for Vodafone in 2016 found that nearly one in four broadband users in rural Ireland use the internet at home in relation to their work and one third have remote access to their company network. An estimated 150,000 rural workers avoid commuting some or all of the time because they can connect to work remotely.  This trend is likely to continue.

If the NPF mainly equates the term ‘employer’ with a large IT services or high-tech manufacturing company, many of which (though by no means all) are attracted to larger cities, then it will only address a small proportion of the State’s population and labour force, and will not help to achieve effective regional development. The NPF must recognise and support existing and new sole traders, micro-businesses and freelancers working in sectors where lagging regions have comparative advantage or which are not location dependent.

Quality of life is a key determinant in the location decision of many people and current trends in the world of work and technology will increasingly help people to work from the same location where they want to live.

Enterprise

Enterprises create most jobs.  The NPF must recognise the need to enable and support the diversification of the Irish economy.  It must provide a support framework for indigenous business growth.

Many of the references to enterprises in the NPF Issues and Choices paper focus on high value, high skill exporting enterprises, which are central to export-led growth and tend to cluster in cities and larger urban centres.  However such enterprises cannot provide a full solution for regional development or jobs growth.  While they play a significant role, and have considerable multiplier impacts in other sectors, direct employment in such enterprises only accounts for one in five jobs nationally (2016 there were a total of 400,985 jobs in IDA and Enterprise Ireland supported companies nationally (DJEI) which was 19.5% of total employment (QNHS, Q4 2016)).

Enterprises in employment-intensive, lower-skill sectors are central to maintaining and growing employment both nationally and regionally.  This is termed a ‘whole of enterprise’ approach acknowledging that enterprises across all sectors have the potential to innovate and increase productivity but vary in how they contribute to growth and employment.  If the NPF focuses too narrowly on high skill, high growth enterprises and/or Foreign Direct Investment it will not lead to effective regional development.  Recognising the role and needs of entrepreneurs in local and personal services is important for sustaining as well as creating jobs, in particular in smaller centres and rural areas.  93.1% of registered enterprises in the Western Region are micro-enterprises, employing fewer than 10 people, and in general the region is characterised by smaller enterprise size (CSO, Business Demography 2014).

While Ireland has emerged from recession, enterprise numbers are not back to pre-recession levels and even more so in the Western Region and particularly more rural counties.  Between 2008 and 2014 (latest data available) the Western Region lost 8.6% of its enterprises, compared with a loss of 2.4% nationally. Construction, Wholesale & Retail, Professional Services and Accommodation & Food Service are the largest enterprise sectors. Indeed fewer than 5% of the Western Region’s enterprises are in the Financial & Insurance and Information & Communications sectors combined.  The region’s enterprise base is currently quite concentrated and diversification of the enterprise base is a key objective.

Employment

As stated in the NPF, a skilled workforce will attract high value enterprises to a region, but a skilled workforce are less likely to locate in a region unless the job opportunities already exist.  In reality this relationship is not so straightforward.  Job opportunities are a critical, but not the only factor in people’s decisions on where to live, many other personal and social factors influence this decision.  In Ireland many people have selected to live in one location but commute to work elsewhere in some cases e-Working for a number of days a week. Equally, areas with large pools of skilled labour e.g. counties in the wider Dublin commuter belt, have not necessarily been able to attract employers to locate there instead.  40% of workers living in the Mid-East region work in a different region.

In general, lagging regions have substantial reserves of unmobilised labour, indicated by higher unemployment rates and lower participation rates.  During the Celtic Tiger this pattern was largely reversed in the Western Region with rising participation rates, falling unemployment and high levels of inward migration as many people returned to the region on response to economic growth opportunities. The WDC’s LookWest.ie campaign effectively illustrated many case studies of individuals and enterprises who (re)located to the region at that time.  Labour markets in lagging regions have the potential to respond very positively to improved economic circumstances and stimulus.

The recession however led to high out-migration, which is particularly detrimental to lagging regions, as the propensity to migrate is higher among the more skilled, depriving the region of their skills and leaving the less skilled more dependent on local employment opportunities.  The creation of job or entrepreneurial opportunities for graduates in lagging regions will help retain and attract a highly skilled labour force and, in turn, stimulate further growth and employment.

A key characteristic of the Western Region is that 1 in 5 people who are at work in the Western Region is self-employed (75,000 people were self-employed in the Western Region, QNHS special run, Q1 2016). While farming influences this to some extent, self-employment is higher in the region across most sectors and is particularly important in the most rural counties.

Between 2012 and 2016 the number of self-employed in the Western Region grew by 31.3% but the number of employees only increased 0.6%.  Practically all recent jobs growth in the region has been driven by self-employment. In more rural areas and smaller towns, people who wish to continue to live in these areas have created their own job.  The NPF must both recognise and support this trend.  The Local Enterprise Offices, local development companies and local authorities are most active in supporting this type of business. It would be important to continue and expand initiatives to support them such as:

  • Roll-out of fibre broadband.
  • Provision of serviced, shared workspace including through Community Enterprise Centres, at a reasonable cost.
  • Mentoring and provision of grants for start-up and established businesses.
  • Network facilitation to allow self-employed, particularly in more rural areas who may be quite isolated, to connect with others in other own or other sectors.
  • Training and upskilling for owner/managers and self-employed across all sectors including personal services (hairdressing, childminding), building trades, retail and hospitality.

What is most interesting in recent trends is that since 2012 there has been quite strong growth in the numbers self-employed who are employing other people (from 14,200 up to 19,000) showing the potential for the self-employed to be job creators.

Education

Further and higher education has an important role to play in regional development.  Educational institutions build a region’s human capital assets, attract and retain talent.  Further education and training have a particular role in up-skilling those with lower education levels, who face higher unemployment rates and are at greater risk of long term unemployment.  Lagging regions generally have a greater share of their labour force with lower levels of education.  In 2011 54.7% of adults in the Western Region had only secondary level education or lower, compared with 51.9% nationally.

Higher education brings knowledge creation, knowledge transfer, cultural and community development and innovation to regions.  It can also stimulate entrepreneurship. Within the Western Region, NUI Galway is a key regional asset and economic driver. It greatly contributes to the attractiveness and economic development of Galway city and its wider hinterland.  To the North West the three Institutes of Technology of Letterkenny, Sligo and Galway-Mayo, are collaborating on the Connacht/Ulster Alliance, an initiative that has the potential to expand the contribution of higher education to regional development in this area.

The broader role of further and higher education, touching on innovation, enterprise and employment, needs to be a key focus of regional policy.  Where this works effectively it becomes part of a virtuous cycle producing graduates and skilled workers, and enabling them to find employment in developing enterprises.

Innovation

To remain competitive, manufacturing and service firms must continually upgrade skills and capabilities, access new ideas and technologies through industry networks, tap the knowledge of their workers, suppliers and customers and search for new market opportunities. This is all innovation.

Innovation policy is often focused on scientific and technological research, but while leading OECD regions produce several hundred patents per year per million inhabitants, more than one third of OECD regions generate fewer than ten patents per year.  Lagging regions need a different kind of innovation policy, one that emphasises absorption capacity and innovation by adoption.

Policy needs to address the issues of regions that are not innovation leaders.  A substantial element of innovation policy should be focused on adoption of innovations developed elsewhere and on initiatives in areas such as human resource management or implementation of new processes.  It should stimulate innovation activity in areas where rural regions have particular strengths such as renewable energy and agri-food.

Regional policy which addresses the levers of effective regional development – Infrastructure, the 3Es and Innovation – through a co-ordinated, place-based, cross-sectoral  approach is needed if the so-called, ‘business as usual’ spatial pattern of growth is to be disrupted and all regions facilitated to realise their potential for economic growth and provide sustainable livelihoods for those who live there.

 

Pauline White

[1] OECD, 2009, How Regions Grow: Trends and Analysis; OECD, 2009, Regions Matter: Economic Recovery, Innovation and Sustainable Growth