Make-work schemes are not going to save us
Export-driven recovery is realistic, but it's not possible if State workers are only ones with jobs, writes Colm McCarthy
The burst property bubble and the resulting banking and sovereign debt crises have created more than a financial disaster. After a decade of almost full employment, the demand for labour in Ireland has collapsed and employment is still falling. But the pattern of employment decline, especially since the implosion of the banking system and the commencement of fiscal austerity towards the end of 2008, displays some disturbing features.
From the final months of 2008 to the last quarter of 2010, total employment in Ireland fell by 230,000, led by construction, where employment halved in just two years with total job losses of 105,000. There were extensive job losses also in manufacturing and most of the services sector. But three sectors managed to hold total employment steady, the sectors called public administration, education and health in the labour market statistics.
Most of the people engaged in these sectors are employed directly by the State, and the remainder, although not formally public servants, are employed by institutions reliant on state funds to a substantial degree.