Extent of recession impact revealed
Published 16/09/2010 | 16:02
The full extent of the recession has been laid bare in a report measuring Ireland's social and economic progress.
Official figures show the unemployment rate was the sixth highest across Europe last year, while economic growth fell sharply and Government debt rose steeply to nearly two-thirds of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Elsewhere the study - Measuring Ireland's Progress 2009 - revealed the productivity of those still in work, measured by GDP per person employed, was about a third higher than the EU average.
"As Irish employees work longer hours, the productivity per hour worked is relatively lower, but still about 4% above the EU average," it added.
The Central Statistics Office (CSO) noted that despite 4.2% of the population remaining in consistent poverty in 2009, Ireland boasted the biggest baby boom in the EU.
The report confirmed Ireland had the lowest divorce and highest fertility rate in the EU, with the population increasing by 17.7% to 4.46 million between 2000 and 2009. It also had the highest proportion of young people aged under 14 years, and the lowest proportion of pensioners.
While the pupil-teacher ratio at primary level in Ireland was high by EU standards, the number of early school-leavers is better than average. Student numbers also rose in 2009, particularly at third-level.
On housing the report said the number of dwelling units built peaked at almost 90,000 in 2006 before collapsing to about 26,400 in 2009, the level that prevailed before the mid-1990s. "The average value of a new housing loan in Ireland rose from 92,000 euro in 1999 to 270,000 euro in 2008," it added.
And focusing on crime, it showed sexual offences dropped by a fifth and killings were down by one tenth over the four-year period to 2008 - the number of murders/manslaughters recorded in Ireland decreased from its peak of 84 in 2007 to 55.
Elsewhere the CSO reported a rise in most other categories, including controlled drug offences (plus 137%), weapons and explosive offences (plus 86%), and road and traffic offences (plus 79%).