How many jobs does Ireland need?

November 27th, 2013 | by Andrew Ó Baoill |

Drawing on the recent piece by Michael Taft, assessing the proportion of emigration for which the recession/response is responsible, and on some CSO estimates for population, we can see the following:

The Irish population has grown by 108,000 between 2009 and 2013.

Taft estimates a net 136,000 Irish aged 15-29 emigrated due to recession over the period from 2008 to 2013 .

That clearly leaves out those over 29 who emigrated due to the recession, but it gives us a floor.

Thus, to keep up with natural growth, the Irish economy would have to have grown by 244,000 over this period. Instead, FTE employment has dropped by 303,000. That’s a net difference of 547,000 between what would be required and what we actually see. The 300,000 the CSO reports as unemployed only tells a small part of the story. (Note, that’s partly because the FTE figures will capture the ‘underemployed’ figures, which are hidden by the simple employed/unemployed summary.)

It’s great to see increases in net employment – I’ve been seeing for the past week or two the press releases touting an increase of something over 50,000 in the last year. However, let’s not kid ourselves: we need ten times that to get back to pre-recession levels – and that’s not even accounting for the loss in purchasing power of those who are in employment. A back of the envelope estimate – assuming that population growth continues at the same pace – would suggest we’ll need another 250,000 jobs to keep up with upcoming population growth over the next five years. So, if we wanted to get back to ‘normality’ over a five year period, we’d need about 160,000 net jobs a year over that period. To put it another way: 50,000 is just about keeping up with natural population growth. Any fall in unemployment in the past year can be attributed wholly to emigration.

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