Saturday 21 October 2017

Migrants could make up shortfall as labour force shrinks

Influx of workers masked fall in labour force in mid-2000s. Photo: Bloomberg
Influx of workers masked fall in labour force in mid-2000s. Photo: Bloomberg
Colm Kelpie

Colm Kelpie

THE share of the population with jobs is expected to fall further over the course of the next 10 years, particularly for men, which could impact on economic growth, according to a paper published by the Central Bank.

Higher immigration is the most effective way of dealing with this trend, the paper notes, as migrants coming to Ireland generally do so for work purposes.

The research, by Central Bank officials Stephen Byrne and Martin O'Brien, states that increasing the participation rates of women in the workforce, including changes to maternity or paternity leave and boosting child care services, would go some way to off-setting the decline.

But it would be minimal as it would be outstripped by the fall-off in male participation rates.

The decline in men in the workforce is due primarily to the fact that young men are remaining in education for longer, and that there are fewer of them around, due to the lower birth-rate in the mid/late 1980s.

From 2008 to 2015, the number of individuals in the State aged 15 to 34 fell by approximately 280,000, half of which can be attributed to emigration and half of which can be attributed to the decline in the birth rate evident in the 1980s.

The report published by the Central Bank said the labour force participation rate has fallen from a peak of 64.1pc in 2007 to 60pc last year.

It also notes that the rise in the participation rate in the mid-2000s was almost entirely due to the enlargement of the labour force through immigration from other European states, and masked an underlying decline in the participation rate of Irish-born workers.

Female participation rates has remained below that of males for all age groups, even though the former has been increasing.

The paper comes a day after unemployment statistics from the Central Statistics Office show that men are twice as likely to be out of work than women. Although falling, the number of men without a job last month was 124,900, compared with 66,100 women.

The overall unemployment rate for men was 10.5pc, compared with a national average of 8.8pc and a jobless rate for women of 6.8pc.

Youth unemployment also remains high. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for persons aged 15-24 years was 20.1pc in February.

This is down slightly from 20.3pc in January.

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