The most recent ESRI Quarterly Economic Commentary predicts that the Irish unemployment rate will fall to below 5.5% earlier in 2018 than originally predicted. To put this in context, in 2014 there were 1.91m people in employment in Ireland, with an unemployment rate of 11.3%. In 2017, the number in employment rose to 2.08m and the unemployment rate fell to 6.1%. In 2018, the ESRI predicts that the number in employment will increase to 2.13m people and the unemployment rate will fall to 5.4%.
Which sectors are most affected by this employment growth?
The ESRI found that most sectors in the Irish economy were experiencing employment growth. However, the largest increases were witnessed in the Construction and Information Technology sectors.
Despite the uncertainty of Brexit, the Irish economy is still firmly on track to attain full employment. Outside of the UK, the Euro area has experienced quarterly positive GDP growth since 2015 and the Euro area unemployment rate fell to 9.3% in April. Another strong indicator is that that the Euro Area Purchasing Managers Index(PMI) reached a six year high in May and this growth is predicted to grow throughout 2018. On the export front, the value of Irish exports increased by nearly €1 billion or 10% when compared to March 2017. The largest increase in exports were witnessed by the chemical and related products sector. This was followed by the food and live animals sector and the lubricants and related materials sector.
In regards the overall economy Irish GDP is set to grow by 3.8% in 2017 and the ESRI predicts GDP growth of 3.6% in 2018. Consequently, Ireland will retain the accolade of having the highest GDP growth rates in Europe in 2018.
In regards employment growth, there was an annual increase of 68,600 or 3.5% in employment in Quarter 1,2017. During this period, full time employment increased by 5.5% and part-time employment reduced by 3.4%. The construction and IT sectors registered a phenomenal growth rate of 9%.
In regards regional performance, the west of Ireland witnessed the greatest growth, at 10.4%. This was followed by the Midlands East region which witnessed a growth rate of 5.3%. The South-East region also registered impressive employment growth of 4.8%. The capital, Dublin, witnessed growth of 2.5%, the South-West 1.8% and the Midlands 3.3%. The Border region witnessed a decline in employment of -0.2%.
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