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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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.