Belfast Telegraph

Unemployment in Republic of Ireland 'could fall below 100,000'


Economist: Andrew Webb
Economist: Andrew Webb

By Shawn Pogatchnik

Joblessness in the Republic is holding steady at a post-crash low, but it could fall below a historic threshold of 100,000 next year, an expert has said.

Ireland's Central Statistics Office (CSO) said unemployment remained at 4.8% in November for the second straight month, with 117,800 people claiming benefits for joblessness.

Northern Ireland's unemployment rate was 2.5% between July and September.

Pawel Adrjan, economist at job search website Indeed, said the Republic's labour market appeared to be on course to keep pruning unemployment levels to below 100,000.

"If current trends continue, there is every chance of this happening in 2020," he explained.

"In this tightening labour market, pressures on wage growth are being felt by employers, who will have to look at other incentives, such as pensions, health insurance and other non-cash perks, to recruit and retain the top talent."

Unemployment 12 months ago stood at 5.6%, with 135,400 people on the dole.

Andrew Webb, chief economist at Grant Thornton, said the CSO data had begun to categorise 110,000 people as a 'potential additional labour force' - people who are considering work opportunities but are not ready to take up a role, or are available to work but not seeking it. He said a further 112,000 people were working part-time only.

"These two factors suggest we might be much further from full employment than thought," Mr Webb added.

Ireland's workforce stands at a record 2.33 million, with growth strongest in financial, insurance and property roles, up by nearly 13% or 13,000 in the past year.

Mr Adrjan said youth unemployment remained a weak point in Ireland's jobs market, with nearly a third of people on the dole currently aged 24 or younger, and unemployment overall among people aged 15 to 24 running at 12.5%.

"While that is a vast improvement on the peak of 31.6% reached in 2012, the youth unemployment rate was below 10% for eight years prior to the 2008 crash, so there is clearly scope for further reductions," Mr Adrjan added.

Economist Alan McQuaid said rising youth unemployment from October's rate of 12.2% indicated that, "while on the surface the Irish labour market looks healthy, there are still a number of faults that need to be mended".

He added there was a problem with the number of jobs available for school leavers.

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