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Strong jobs growth in manufacturing but decline in market services in Western Region

Between 2012 and 2015 employment in market services sectors declined in the Western Region, but grew in the rest of the country.  This is the main reason for slower jobs recovery in the Western Region, where employment grew by 2.8% compared with 6.3% in the rest of the state during that period.  That’s according to a new Western Development Commission (WDC) publication Impact of Sectors on Western Region’s Jobs Recovery’.

Market services are businesses which supply services to consumers or other businesses.  During 2012-2015, jobs in Administration and Other Services (-11.4%), Locally Traded Services (retail, hospitality, transport) (-7.5%) and Knowledge Services (finance, ICT, professional services) (-7.3%) all declined in the Western Region.  This was during a period of recovery in these sectors nationally.

‘Many of these businesses rely on consumer spending.  Lower incomes in the region than in much of the rest of the state is one of the challenges they face.  The decline in Locally Traded Services has also contributed to the region’s higher youth unemployment rate of 30.8% compared with 20% in the rest of the state.  These are areas where young people often find work,’ according to Paddy McGuinness, Chairperson of the WDC.

‘Job declines in high-value, knowledge services such as ICT, which are seen as key to future growth, is a particular concern.  Improving the region’s capacity to attract and grow knowledge services activities must be central to jobs and enterprise strategies,’ he added.

On a positive note, the region’s manufacturing sector is performing strongly.  Employing 50,000 people, Industry is the single largest employer in the Western Region.  It is also more important to regional employment, accounting for 15.6% of all jobs compared with 12.2% in the rest of the state.  Over the three years 2012-2015 industrial employment in the Western Region grew by 8.3%, more than twice the growth in the rest of the state (3.4%).

‘Our manufacturing base is a core strength for the Western Region.  It is critical that we build on this strength and maintain our competitiveness as a location for globally trading Irish and foreign-owned companies, offering a highly skilled workforce, top class infrastructure and responsive higher education institutions,’ concluded Mr. McGuinness.

Similar to the rest of the state, Agriculture (+32%) and Construction (+18.2%) saw the largest increases in job numbers, driven by strong agri-food exports and a resurgence in building activity.

Download the two-page WDC Insights publication ‘Impact of Sectors on Western Region’s Jobs Recovery’ here

 

Notes to Editor:

All data taken from a special run of the CSO’s Quarterly National Household Survey, Quarter 1 2012-2015 for the seven county Western Region.

The Western Development Commission (WDC) (wdc.ie) is the statutory body promoting economic and social development in the Western Region (counties Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, Roscommon, Mayo, Galway and Clare). Its strategic goals are:

  • To inform policy-making on economic and social development in the Western Region through high quality analysis.
  • To promote the benefits of living, working and doing business in the Western Region.
  • To encourage the development of the rural economy based on the sustainable development of the Western Region’s strengths and resources.
  • To provide risk capital to micro, small and medium sized and social enterprises in their start-up and expansion phases through the WDC Investment Fund (WIF).

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

Uneven regional impact of Ireland’s jobs recovery

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

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

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

Percentage change in employment 2006-2010 and 2011-2015

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

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

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

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

Regional employment trends 2006-2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pauline White

 

Unemployment declining in Western Region at a slower pace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pauline White

Women, men and the jobs recovery

In previous posts we’ve looked at the Western Region’s Labour Market and its Sectoral Profile, but how do these patterns differ by gender? Is the current jobs recovery impacting on men and women differently?

While jobs growth is underway in the country as a whole, as well as in the Western Region (though at a lower level), this has mainly been driven by growth in male jobs. Between 2012 and 2014 male employment in the rest of the state (all counties other than the seven counties of the Western Region) increased by 5.9% compared with 1.6% growth in female employment. In the Western Region over the same period, 2.9% growth in male jobs was in contrast to a -0.4% decline in the number of women at work. Women in general do not appear to be benefiting as much as men from the upturn in the labour market, and even more so in the Western Region. Why is this?

Jobs growth in sectors important for male employment, but decline in many female dominated sectors

Much of it stems from the sectoral jobs pattern and the relative performance of male and female dominated sectors. Fig. 1 shows the percentage of male and female jobs in each sector in the Western Region. Public and local services are the main areas of employment for women. The biggest gender difference is in Health and Social Work which accounts for 22% of women’s jobs compared with 4.3% of men’s. A total of 41.1% of working women in the region work in the predominantly public sectors (Health, Education & Public Administration). For men the figure is just 12.9%. Any reduction or lack of growth in public sector jobs has a far greater impact on women’s employment.

Accommodation and Food Service, ‘Other NACE Activities’, Financial, Insurance and Real Estate, and Administrative and Support Services also account for a greater share of women’s than men’s jobs. These are all predominantly local services which have been impacted by limited domestic demand.

Industry, Agriculture, Construction, and Transport and Storage are the most male dominated sectors. Industry accounts for twice as large a share of all male jobs as female. For the others, their share of all female jobs is very low. It is notable that the knowledge services sector of Information and Communication, often seen as a key future growth area, accounts for a far higher share of male than female jobs.

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

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

Between 2012 and 2014 half of sectors (7 of 14) experienced an increase in employment in the Western Region (Fig. 2). Industry, Agriculture, Wholesale and Retail, and Accommodation and Food Service, the four largest male employment sectors, all experienced jobs growth. This contributed to the overall 2.9% growth in male jobs between 2012 and 2014.

However jobs in Health and Education declined in the region, while they rose in the rest of the state. Combined with declines in Finance, Other Services and Public Administration (all of which are more important female employers) these sectoral declines contributed to the -0.4% decline in women’s jobs in the region. The contraction of employment in Health and Education in particular has significant implications for women’s jobs, particularly in more rural areas of the region which have higher dependence on these sectors, partly due to limited alternative professional or clerical career opportunities.

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

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

Lower female participation

A distinct gender pattern obvious from Fig. 3  and Fig. 4 is the higher proportion of men who are active in the labour force. The region’s male labour force participation rate is 65.2% compared with a female rate of 50.4%. The gender gap in participation rates narrowed during the recession as participation among men, particularly young men, fell very dramatically while female rates remained steady. However 2014 saw some widening of the gender gap again as the female rate declined and the male rate rose. The weaker recent female jobs performance may be contributing to declining female participation in the labour market.

Fig. 3: Economic status of Western Region’s male population aged 15 years and over, Q1 2014 (Source: CSO, Quarterly National Household Survey, Q1 2014, Table 1. Special run)

Fig. 3: Economic status of Western Region’s male population aged 15 years and over, Q1 2014 (Source: CSO, Quarterly National Household Survey, Q1 2014, Table 1. Special run)

Higher male unemployment but gap narrowing

Despite the stronger recent growth in male jobs, there is still a far greater number of unemployed men in the region than women – 26,200 compared with 14,400 (Fig. 3 and Fig. 4). The massive increase in unemployment from 2008 was initially concentrated among men, given the job losses in building and related sectors, before spreading more widely across the domestic economy leading to rising female job losses (though at a lower level).

The fall in unemployment since 2012 has been stronger among men than women; meaning that while the unemployment rates for both sexes have declined, the rate of decline has been stronger among men, narrowing the gender gap. In 2012 there was a 5.5 percentage point gap, which narrowed to 4.0 percentage points by 2014 when the region’s male unemployment rate was 13.3% and the female 9.3%. Unemployment continues to be higher among men but the difference is declining.

Fig. 4: Economic status of Western Region’s female population aged 15 years and over, Q1 2014 (Source: CSO, Quarterly National Household Survey, Q1 2014, Table 1. Special run)

Fig. 4: Economic status of Western Region’s female population aged 15 years and over, Q1 2014 (Source: CSO, Quarterly National Household Survey, Q1 2014, Table 1. Special run)

Note: The percentages refer to the share of the adult population in each category. Therefore the percentage unemployed is not the same as the unemployment rate which refers to the number unemployed as a percentage of those in the labour force and not of the entire adult population.

Greater part-time working among women

The other key feature of Fig. 3  and Fig. 4 is the far greater share and level of part-time working among women. In 2014 almost twice as many women (52,600) as men (27,500) in the region were working part-time. As a proportion of total employment this was 37.4% of all working women compared with 16.1% of working men. A key aspect is the extent to which part-time working is by choice or involuntary. If a person would prefer to be working full-time (if a full-time job were available) they are considered to be part-time underemployment. For men who are working part-time, 40% are underemployed but for women it is 27%. The extent to which women choose part-time work is very often related to greater caring responsibilities and the availability (or lack) of appropriate and affordable care provision.

For both men and women the share working part-time is higher in the Western Region than the rest of the state. In the case of women, part-time working in the region has increased since 2012 (rising from 35.3% to 37.4%) while it has remained unchanged for women in the rest of the state and declined slightly among men in the region. Not only has total female employment in the region declined since 2012, but a greater proportion of those who are working are working part-time.

This analysis raises serious questions in relation to not only the spatial pattern of the current jobs recovery but also the gender pattern. Women in the Western Region appear to be experiencing the poorest jobs recovery; compared with men and also with women living elsewhere. The concentration of female jobs in public services and the recent employment declines in these sectors in the region seems to be one of the main reasons, a trend that requires further investigation.

Pauline White