The Geographic Spread of the Irish Jobs Recovery
National Job Performance
This blog examines the geographic spread of the employment recovery of the past few years. Have the new jobs been spread around the country or are they concentrated in Dublin or a few locations? Have some areas fared much worse than others? The latest employment data, which refer to Quarter 2 2017, show that there were 2.0630 million jobs in the economy. This is 84,000 lower than the 2.1473 jobs in pre-collapse Quarter 2 2008. Thereafter employment decreased to a low of 1.8362 million in Quarter 2 2012. Between Quarter 2 2012 and Quarter 2 2017 national employment increased by 226,800, a very substantial jobs recovery.
Regional Spread of employment 2012 to 2017
Data are available from the Quarterly National Household Survey (QNHS) for eight regions as shown in Table 2. Effective from Quarter 3 2017 the QNHS is being replaced by a new Labour Force Survey. The data are based on households in each region. Consequently the employment figures refer to residents of the region who have jobs but the jobs are not necessarily located in that region. There is a substantial pattern of commuting to places of employment which cross both county and regional boundaries. Many people living in the counties close to Dublin are employed in Dublin.
The counties in each region are shown below Table 1.
Table 1 Counties in Each Region
All eight regions experienced increases in employment over the period. Therefore all regions have shared in the jobs growth. However, the rate of growth is not evenly distributed. The West had the worst performance with only a 4.7% employment increase compared to 16.3% in the Midlands which was the best performing region over the period.
As already noted, the substantial increase of 16.3% in the number of Midland residents employed does not mean that there was an equivalent increase in the amount of jobs located in the Midland region. Some of these additional jobs are likely to be located in the Dublin and other regions. The reverse is also the case. The increase in the number of Dublin residents who have jobs understates the increase in the number of jobs located in the Dublin region.
The Mid-West was the only other region to have single-digit growth. The other six regions had growth rates of 11% or higher. Dublin employment grew by 14.5% which was the third highest performance after Midland and South-East.
Table 2 Regional Employment levels and changes Quarter 2 2012 to Quarter 2 2017, thousands
|Region||Quarter 2 2012||Quarter 2 2017||% change 2012/2017||Rank of regional growth rate|
Source. CSO, QNHS
While 2012 was the lowest Quarter 2 national employment total since 2007, this is not the case for all the eight regions. The lowest Quarter 2 employment levels for West, South-East and South-West occurred in 2011. The Mid-East lowest was in 2013 and the Mid-West lowest was in 2014.The other three regions had their lowest Quarter 2 employment totals in 2012.
The 2016 Census of Population enables us to look at the county pattern of employment change compared with the previous 2011 census. The same caveat applies that these figures refer to jobs of the people living in the county, not the number of jobs located in the county. Since most of us are very interested in our own county performance we present the details for all 26 geographic counties (geographic as opposed to administrative, Dublin county has four local government administrative counties).
Table 3 County employment levels 2011 and 2016 and % increases 2011 to 2016
Source. CSO, Census of Population
All 26 counties experienced employment increases between 2011 and 2016. However, there was a wide range of percentage increases. The highest increase was Louth at 13.8% and the lowest was Sligo at 2.2%. An East-West difference is clear from the figures. The top five percentage increases were all in Leinster, Louth, Dublin, Carlow, Wexford and Kildare. Four of the five lowest increases were in Connacht, Sligo, Mayo, Roscommon and Leitrim. Tipperary completes the bottom five growth performances.
This blog examined the geographic spread of the national jobs recovery using the latest QNHS and Census of Population figures. These figures refer to the number of residents who have jobs. They do not refer to the number of jobs in a specific location. The location of jobs is, of course, an important regional economic indicator but the QNHS does not provide information on this. The blog does not cover the type of jobs (part time and full time) and occupations which is another important regional economic indicator. It should also be noted that within counties there may be a range of performances eg rural areas may perform worse than the overall county performance. Cork City employment grew by 17.2% while the county area employment grew by 9.4% giving the overall county increase of 11.0%. These caveats should be noted.
All eight regions experienced increases in employment over the 2012/2017 period. However, the rate of growth is not evenly distributed. The West had the worst performance with a 4.7% employment increase compared to 16.3% in the Midlands which was the best performing region over the period. The national increase was 12.4%, and Dublin with 14.5% was ranked third of the regions.
At the county level, all 26 counties had employment increases between 2011 and 2016. However, there was a wide range of percentage increases. The highest increase was Louth at 13.8% and the lowest was Sligo at 2.2%. An East-West difference is clear from the figures. The top five percentage increases were all from Leinster; Louth, Dublin, Carlow, Wexford and Kildare. Four of the five lowest increases were in Connacht; Sligo, Mayo, Roscommon and Leitrim. Tipperary completes the bottom five growth performances.
The good news is that the jobs recovery is widely spread. The bad news from a regional development perspective is that many areas performed relatively poorly compared to others.
Associate Professor of Economics, Dublin City University Business School