CONSTRUCTION was the fastest-growing sector for jobs up to the eve of the Covid 19 crisis, doubling in six years to nearly 150,000.
The Labour Force Survey for the first three month's of 2020 is a snapshot of Ireland's exceptional jobs growth up to that point. Employment rose by 20pc from 2014 to a new high, topping 2.35 million.
But the shutdown of the economy to contain the coronavirus then slashed employment at unprecedented speed to barely two million by the end of March.
Comparing levels of employment across 14 broad areas from the start of 2014 to six years later, the Central Statistics Office said jobs grew in all but one area - agriculture, fisheries and forestry. There, job numbers fell by 2,200 to 107,300 even before Covid-19 reached Ireland.
But construction experienced a surge in hiring from its low 2014 base and the aftermath of the 2008 property crash.
Construction jobs grew from 87,100 in 2014 to 147,700 in early 2020. This reflected the multi-billion investments by commercial property funds and a recovery in domestic home-building amid chronic unmet demand.
In the same period construction roles overwhelmingly shifted from part-time jobs to full-time positions.
The survey also revealed that nearly a quarter of workers were already working from home at least some of the time before Covid-19.
While barely 80,000 people usually worked from home at the start of 2014, that number had surged to 206,500 by the start of this year. And the number of people who sometimes worked from home grew by 57pc over that period to 336,000.
Together that represents 23pc of the workforce in the period when Covid-19 was still concentrated in China. The numbers now working from home are dramatically higher, and likely to remains so after the Covid lockdowns end.
The report documented a sharp shift away from temporary roles to more secure full-time jobs as the employment market kicked into high gear.
Of the 62,700 people in part-time jobs earlier this year, only 13.1pc said this was because they couldn't find a full-time job. In 2014, of 179,000 in part-time work, 41.4pc said they couldn't find a full-time job.
Even workers in sales and customer service - traditionally among areas with the highest level of part-time roles - experienced a strong to full-time work. Mos of the 30,000 new jobs since 2014 were full-time.