Posts

WDC Policy Analysis 2016

Happy New Year to all our WDC Insights blog readers!  As we start into 2017 this is a good time to reflect on what we’ve done over the last 12 months.

2016 was a busy year for the Western Development Commission’s Policy Analysis team and this infographic summarises some of our key work throughout the year.

twittergraphic16_12_16hi_res-01

 

Highlights include:

  • 42 posts on our WDC Insights blog on topics ranging from self-employment and eWork to county incomes, local government finance, rural development and broadband roll-out
  • 6 WDC Insights publications highlighting key findings of our analysis of rail freight, labour markets, enterprise and Census 2016
  • A detailed report on the Preliminary Results of Census 2016 for the Western Region
  • 5 submissions (public and private) to national policy consultations on the viability of rural towns, development plans for both the natural gas and electricity transmission networks and Census 2021
  • 6 presentations regionally and nationally, as well as chairing and participating in conferences

And at the end of the year, we produced our first infographic ‘This is the Western Region’ highlighting a variety of statistics about the Western Region.

2016 also saw us (finally) join the Twittersphere @WDCInsights

Looking forward to 2017.

 

Deirdre Frost, Helen McHenry & Pauline White

 

If you want to take a closer look at our ‘WDC Policy Analysis 2016’ infographic you can download the pdf here.

The Western Region’s Sectoral Profile

We’ve just published WDC Insights-The Western Region’s Sectoral Profile-April 2015 (PDF 0.2MB) which presents the key findings from The Western Region’s Labour Market 2004-2014-WDC Report March 2015 (PDF 2.5MB) on the region’s sectoral pattern of employment.

Understanding the sectoral pattern of jobs in the region, and recent patterns of sectoral growth and decline, is particularly important to the development of job creation, skills and enterprise policy for the region.

Sector of employment

The two largest employment sectors in the Western Region are Wholesale and Retail, and Industry with around 30% of jobs (Fig. 1).  Of the region’s top seven sectors, all (except Health) account for a greater share of jobs in the region than the rest of the state.  Agriculture and Industry (manufacturing) are considerably more important in the region.  Among the region’s smaller sectors the share working in them in the region is considerably below that in the rest of the state.

In general the Western Region’s jobs profile relies more heavily than the rest of the state on the traditional sectors (Industry, Agriculture and Construction) and local services (Wholesale and Retail, and Accommodation and Food Service) which depend on domestic spending and tourism.  The region’s sectoral jobs pattern is influenced by its largely rural nature.

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

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

Western Region’s share of jobs by sector

This jobs pattern can also be seen in the region’s share of national total jobs in each sector.  In total 16.5% of all jobs in the state are located in the Western Region (Fig. 2).  Agriculture, Industry and Construction are the sectors where the region makes its largest contribution to national jobs.

The region’s share of all Industry jobs nationally has increased very strongly in recent years from 16% in 2007 to its current 19.5%, due to its relatively more stable jobs performance in the region.  The region’s manufacturing strength is a key national asset and a previous blog post on ‘Trends in Agency Assisted Employment in the Western Region’ highlighted the industrial sub-sectors which have driven the region’s manufacturing strength.

The three knowledge intensive services sectors are where the region accounts for its lowest shares of national jobs.  Less than 10% of all Information and Communication, and Financial, Insurance and Real Estate jobs are based in the region and its share of both has declined since 2012.  Not only does the region have low shares in these sectors but it is losing ground.

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

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

Recent changes in employment by sector

Between 2012 and 2014 half of sectors (7 of 14) experienced jobs growth in the Western Region (Fig. 3).  Agriculture grew most strongly followed by Professional, Scientific and Technical activities next.  Growth in these sectors contributed to the region’s increasing share of self-employment.  Wholesale and Retail and Accommodation and Food Service also grew as this period coincided with an increase in overseas visitor numbers as well as consumer spending.

The Western Region experienced a far greater jobs decline than the rest of the state across many sectors, including knowledge intensive services and public services.  In the case of Information and Communication, employment fell by nearly 16% in the region but it had the fourth largest growth in the rest of the country (5.2%).  The reasons for the Western’s Region poor, and weakening, jobs performance in this high growth potential sector need to be investigated.

Fig. 3: Percentage change in employment by sector in the Western Region and rest of the state, Q1 2012 to Q1 2014 (Source:  CSO, Quarterly National Household Survey, Q1 2014, Table 2. Special run)

Fig. 3: Percentage change in employment by sector in the Western Region and rest of the state, Q1 2012 to Q1 2014 (Source: CSO, Quarterly National Household Survey, Q1 2014, Table 2. Special run)

These key aspects of the Western Region’s labour market should inform the development of the upcoming Action Plan for Jobs for the West, Border and Mid-West regions.  The region’s labour market characteristics should influence which policies are prioritised for the region and the sectors of focus for job creation strategies.

Download WDC Insights The Western Region’s Sectoral Profile and full report ‘The Western Region’s Labour Market 2004-2014’ here

Pauline White

 

Note: The CSO has noted concerns over the impact of the new sampling structure on the employment figures for Agriculture. 

Source: CSO, Quarterly National Household Survey, Quarter 1 2004-2014, special run

 

WDC presents on Creative Economy to JOC

The WDC was invited to present to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation on its work in developing the Creative Economy. On Tuesday 21 April, the WDC as well as NUI Galway, Teagasc, the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland and TG4 presented on the potential for job creation, innovation and balanced economic development in the creative sector.

The WDC has worked with this sector since 2008. At that time, after the collapse of the building sector and its knock-on impacts across the domestic economy, there was a clear need to identify and support new sources of regional economic growth and job creation. The creative industries sector was in many ways an obvious choice for the region as it is mainly made up of self-employed or micro-enterprises with people quite embedded in their local area. The sector was showing strong growth internationally and could create jobs and contribute to tourism, including in rural areas.

As there was little research in Ireland at the time, the WDC commissioned Creative Sector Baseline Report 2008 (PDF 2.5MB) to investigate the size and nature of the region’s creative sector and to identify its key issues. The Creative West 2009 (PDF 1.9MB) report found that there were 4,800 businesses in the creative sector in the Western Region, employing 11,000 people and generating €534m in annual turnover, directly contributing €270m to the Gross Value Added of the regional economy.   There was limited export activity however with two-thirds not engaged in any exporting. The majority of those in the sector were self-employed with 40% working alone and almost 90% being micro-enterprises.

Quality of life and inspiration from the region’s landscape and culture were among the strongest motivators for creative people to live and work in the Western Region. They faced a number of constraints however that can be addressed by policy and enterprise supports. Chief among these are high bandwidth broadband for creative enterprises operating in rural areas, difficulties in finding and recruiting specific skills, and quite limited networking with others in the sector and wider business community.   Creative businesses often do not fit easily into the eligibility criteria for enterprise funding and may find it difficult to access finance.

The report set out a series of recommendations for developing the sector in the region which have formed the basis of the WDC’s activities to support the sector. Under Creative Edge  (a €1.2m transnational EU-funded project, 2011-2013) the WDC developed the MyCreativeEdge.eu website to provide an online showcase for creative enterprises, with over 550 now profiled on the site. The new 3-year, €2m Creative Momentum project will further develop new routes to export markets for creative enterprises, as well as providing international networking opportunities with creative enterprises from Northern Ireland, Iceland, Sweden and Finland. The WDC Micro-Loan Fund: Creative Industries  provides loans of €5,000-€25,000 to creative enterprises and to date has funded 12 creative enterprises across the Western Region.

Nationally the Action Plan for Jobs identified the creative sector as one of the key sectoral opportunities for economic growth and job creation in Ireland. As the new Action Plan for Jobs – Regional process develops, it is important that the potential of the creative industries to contribute to sustainable job creation and enterprise growth at a regional level be recognised and the sector supported. Under the Creative Edge project the Whitaker Institute at NUI Galway developed the Creative Edge Policy Toolkit which set out a number of recommendations on policy actions that could be taken to support the sector’s growth. This could provide a useful input.

The Commission for the Economic Development of Rural Areas (CEDRA)  has also identified creative industries as a key growth sector for rural economic diversification and recommended the development of a coordinated strategy for the sector that places specific focus on its potential to contribute to the rural economy. Such a coordinated strategy however needs to be worked out through sector-specific policies and actions in the areas of enterprise support, job creation, culture, skills development and regional economic development to make a meaningful contribution.

A full transcript of the discussion at the JOC can be found here

Pauline White

The Western Region’s Labour Market

The WDC has just published a new analysis of the Western Region’s Labour Market. This is based on a special run of data from the CSO’s QNHS for the period 2004-2014 for the seven-county Western Region. Understanding the region’s labour market is important for effective job creation, enterprise and skills policy.

In 2014 the Western Region’s adult population was just over 600,000 with 350,000 active in the labour force. Its labour force has contracted since 2012, largely because of outward migration, and is characterised by higher part-time, under- and self-employment, for both men and women. These are distinct differences in the nature of the region’s labour market that may point to certain weaknesses which need to be addressed by tailored job creation actions for the region.

Western Regions adult populatin diagram

 

Some of the key findings of the analysis are:

  1. Lower labour force participation in the Western Region: A smaller share of the Western Region’s adult population is engaged in the labour market and therefore economically active. The region’s participation rate in 2014 is 57.7% compared with 60.1% in the rest of the state. As human capital is among the most critical factors for regional economic development, this has negative implications for the region’s economic growth and viability. The higher level of economic dependency, resulting from the larger proportion of the population outside of the labour force, also has important social impacts and increases the need for state transfers.
  2. Higher share of self-employment: The region has a higher share of self-employment (without employees) than the rest of the state – 16.3% of all employment in the region compared with 11.4% in the rest of the state. This increases the importance of policy and supports to facilitate the self-employed to establish and sustain their businesses, such as soft business supports, quality broadband, networking, etc. Many may work from home or are mobile and are engaged in local services and therefore outside the remit of the enterprise agencies. They play a particularly significant role in sustaining rural communities and economies. This role, and their needs, requires further investigation and policy focus.
  3. Higher share of part-time working and recent jobs growth more likely to be part-time: There is a higher degree of part-time working in the region with 25.7% of all jobs in the region in 2014 part-time, compared with 23.5% in the rest of the state. Recent jobs growth has also been more likely to be part-time in the region than elsewhere. While part-time working can play an important role for those with caring and other commitments, the greater share of recent jobs growth in the region that is part-time raises some concerns over the nature of employment and the quality of recent jobs growth. A focus on stimulating more full-time jobs should be built into job creation policy for the region.
  4. Lower employment growth: Employment in the region grew over 2012-2014 by 1.4% but this was less than in the rest of the state (3.9%). The jobs recovery in the region is lagging that elsewhere. Initiatives to stimulate and facilitate job creation in regional locations are required to address the region’s weaker jobs performance.
  5. Declining unemployment influenced by out-migration: Unemployment has declined by 28.4% since 2012 but this has only partially been caused by jobs growth. The greater part is due to the loss of unemployed people from the region, either overseas or to other parts of Ireland. The decline in unemployment in the region has been stronger than elsewhere, leading to its unemployment rate dropping below that in the rest of the state (11.5% compared with 12.1% in 2014), reflecting the significant impact of out-migration on the region’s labour market.
  6. Higher youth unemployment rate: The Western Region has a higher youth (15-24 yrs) unemployment rate, 29.2% compared with 24.6% in the rest of the state. As the region has a lower total unemployment rate, this indicates that youth unemployment is a more serious challenge for the region. High youth unemployment can have very significant long-term impacts, as a period of unemployment at a young age can hinder the person’s career prospects and earnings potential. The needs of young jobseekers in the Western Region should be a key policy priority, nationally and for the region, both to prevent them from falling into long-term unemployment and also to reduce out-migration.

These aspects of the Western Region’s labour market should inform the development of the upcoming Action Plan for Jobs for the West, Border and Mid-West regions. The distinctive characteristics of the region’s labour market profile should influence which policies are prioritised for the region and the sectors of focus for job creation strategies. A new WDC Insights on the Western Region’s sectoral profile will be published in coming weeks.

Download two-page WDC Insights WDC Insights-The Western Region’s Labour Market-April 2015 (PDF 0.2MB)

Download full WDC report The Western Region’s Labour Market 2004-2014-WDC Report March 2015 (PDF 2.5MB)

Pauline White

Agency Assisted Employment in the Western Counties

The WDC published its report on ‘Trends in Agency Assisted Employment in the Western Region’ last week. This included an analysis of data for each of the seven western counties. The main findings for the western counties are:

  •  Galway: In 2013, there were 23,650 people working in agency assisted jobs. Galway has the third highest share in Ireland of agency assisted jobs as a share of total jobs at 23.5%. Over 60% of agency assisted jobs in Galway are in foreign owned companies (2013), this is the highest level for the past ten years. Since 2010 employment in assisted foreign owned companies grew by 19% while in Irish owned it only grew 3%. Modern Manufacturing, which includes medical devices and ICT, is Galway’s largest sector and in 2013 reached its highest level with 8,750 permanent full-time jobs.
  • Clare: In 2013, there were 9,250 people working in agency assisted jobs. Clare has the fifth highest share in Ireland of agency assisted jobs as a share of total jobs at 20.3%. Just over 40% of agency assisted jobs in Clare are in foreign owned companies (2013); this is considerably lower than ten years ago. Since 2010 jobs in assisted Irish owned companies in Clare have remained relatively stable, while foreign owned have continued to decline, with some slight recovery in 2013. Traditional Manufacturing is Clare’s largest sector and has grown since 2011, as has Modern Manufacturing. Assisted jobs in the international services sectors are declining however, which has meant that total assisted jobs have not grown.
  • Mayo: In 2013, there were 8,310 people working in agency assisted jobs. The total number in Mayo is close to the 2006/2007 peak and a higher share are now in permanent full-time jobs. Mayo had the second highest growth in agency assisted jobs in the Western Region in 2013 at 4.9%. There was stronger growth in foreign owned companies (6.1%) than Irish owned (2.7%) in that year. Assisted jobs in Mayo are almost evenly divided between foreign and Irish companies. Mayo’s largest assisted employment sector is Modern Manufacturing, which includes medical devices and chemicals, with almost 3,000 permanent full-time jobs. This is its highest level in the past ten years.
  • Donegal: In 2013, there were 7,850 people working in agency assisted jobs. The biggest change in the county over the past ten years is the rise in the share that are permanent full-time from 78% to 86.3% (2004-2013). The total number of agency assisted jobs in Donegal was up 4.4% in 2013. Donegal has the lowest share of its assisted jobs in foreign owned companies in the Western Region at 38.1%, although this is the county’s highest share of the past ten years. While assisted jobs in foreign owned companies have been growing since 2010, those in Irish owned companies showed their first increase since 2007 in 2013. Information and Communications is the assisted sector with the strongest recent jobs growth, up 30.9% between 2010 and 2013.
  • Sligo: In 2013, there were 3,880 people working in agency assisted jobs. 15.3% of total jobs in the county were agency assisted, which is below the state average (19.3%). Of total agency assisted jobs, 12.5% are temporary/part-time. This is below the Western Region average but the highest level in Sligo between 2004 and 2013. Some 55.6% of assisted jobs in Sligo are in foreign owned companies; lower than a decade earlier. Irish owned assisted employment has grown steadily since 2011 and was up 4.8% in 2013. Sligo’s second largest assisted sector – Traditional Manufacturing – has had the strongest recent growth, up a fifth (21.5%) between 2010 and 2013.
  • Roscommon: In 2013, there were 2,360 people working in agency assisted jobs. Roscommon had the highest growth in such jobs in the Western Region in 2013 at 6%. This growth was driven by Irish owned companies. 2013 was the first year that agency assisted jobs grew in Roscommon since 2007; later than in most other counties. In a national context, the county has a low share of agency assisted jobs. Agency assisted jobs in Roscommon are very concentrated in manufacturing. At 51.2%, the share of Roscommon’s agency assisted jobs that are in the Modern Manufacturing sector, which includes medical devices and pharma, is the second highest in Ireland. The sector showed strong growth in 2013 (6.6%), with Traditional Manufacturing also increasing (10.1%).
  • Leitrim: In 2013, there were 1,310 people working in agency assisted jobs. Leitrim has the highest share of its agency assisted jobs in foreign owned companies (62.9%) in the region and is third highest nationally. Despite this, agency assisted jobs in Leitrim declined in each year between 2004 and 2013. All other western counties, except Clare, have seen some recovery since 2010. While total numbers are declining, Irish owned assisted jobs in Leitrim have begun to recover, up 8.4% in 2013. International Services was Leitrim’s largest agency assisted sector for most of the ten years. In 2012 it was surpassed by Traditional Manufacturing which is now the largest. However, the Modern Manufacturing sector has performed best in recent years with permanent full-time jobs up 8.3% in 2013.

Download the two page WDC Insights, full report and 7 county profiles here

Regional balance in FDI

The regional balance of FDI received considerable media attention over the past few days. IDA Ireland’s statement on its 2014 performance (issued on Tuesday, 6 January) noted that 37% of investments had taken place outside of Dublin and Cork. This was an improvement from 2013’s 30% figure but still considerably behind the 50% target set in their Horizon 2020 strategy.

The IDA’s new five-year strategy, due to be published soon, is likely to give more focus to the issue of the regional spread of FDI investment. For urban centres other than the largest cities, the target needs to be smaller scale FDI appropriate for such locations. Smaller urban centres have access to large labour catchments beyond their town boundaries, as well as the potential to attract returning emigrants, and have much improved transport and broadband infrastructure capacity than previously.

The WDC will publish a report later this month analysing trends in agency assisted employment, both foreign owned and Irish owned, in the Western Region over the 2004-2013 period. It will analyse the type of employment, ownership patterns and sectoral performance within the region. County level data will also be examined and the WDC will publish individual county profiles for each of the seven western counties.

We hope this analysis will provide useful insights for enterprise, job creation and regional development policy for the Western Region.