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Jobs at foreign firms growing more than twice as fast as rest of economy - IDA

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Dublin expansions by Facebook, Salesforce and Indeed last year helped the IDA to boost employment at foreign multinationals by nearly 14,000.

The 2019 results published today by the State’s inward investment agency said FDI (foreign direct investment) now provides 10.5pc of jobs nationwide - twice the level a decade ago.

Employment within the IDA’s portfolio grew by 6pc in 2019, more than double the nation’s overall rate of jobs growth - highlighting multinationals’ recruitment edge with typically higher salaries and benefits than indigenous firms can offer.

The IDA said 250 new investments - half by firms creating their first base in Ireland - delivered 21,844 jobs last year, offset in part by the loss of 7,977 positions at existing IDA clients. This produced a net gain of 13,867 jobs, taking the total employment at IDA-backed firms to a new high above 245,000.

These results were broadly similar to 2018, suggesting no drop-off in hiring and growth despite the scarcity of skilled available labour in Ireland’s tight market.

IDA chief executive Martin Shanahan said IDA clients last year increased spending within the State by 11pc to €21.5bn, including 12pc hikes on payroll and local services.

He said the value of their exports rose by 14pc to €218.7bn, representing more than two-thirds of the State’s entire exports. Some 45pc in value terms went to continental Europe, 20pc to the US and 13pc to the UK.

“It is important that we do not take our continuing FDI success for granted,” said business minister Heather Humphreys. “The challenge - particularly if international market conditions become more difficult in the years ahead - is to maintain Ireland’s competitiveness and our attractiveness to overseas firms.”

The IDA’s three biggest catches last year all reflected growth at existing US multinationals in Dublin:

  • Facebook – taking over the previous AIB headquarters site in Ballsbridge - hired 1,000 staff and contractors across 60 teams, including engineering, safety, legal, policy, marketing and sales teams.
  • Recruitment firm Indeed - expanding into its new Capitol Dock headquarters -  added 600 roles.
  • And cloud computing firm Salesforce established its new North Wall Quay campus with plans to hire 1,500.

IDA and Government leaders were keen to stress investment gains outside Dublin, noting that all regional development goals contained in the IDA’s 2015-19 strategy had been achieved or exceeded. Still, the more modest headline figures here reflected the relative difficulty of wooing foreign firms to locations beyond Dublin, the concentration of pharma firms in Cork or the medtech cluster in Galway.

The three biggest FDI gains in smaller cities and towns last year were:

  • US insurer Allstate opened its first two bases in Ireland with plans to boot employment by 100 both in Sligo and Waterford.
  • Contact lens maker Johnson & Johnson Vision added 100 at its Limerick factory as part of a €100m expansion.
  • JRI America, an IT provider to Japan’s second-largest bank, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp., started to hire 100 extra staff at its Tralee technology centre.

Mr Shanahan said he expected Ireland’s “unprecedented” run of attracting FDI to Ireland since 2015 to continue into the first half of this year.

However, he cautioned: “We observe significant downside risk in the marketplace over the next five-year period.”

“Those risks emanate from the possibility of an economic correction in key source markets, continued trade tensions, subdued global economic growth, and from domestic challenges related to competitiveness and the carrying capacity of the economy.”

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