The ability to photocopy your bottom after 11 glasses of mulled wine may be a skill the national workforce needs to regain. Christmas parties are suddenly back on the menu. Some 46 per cent of small and medium enterprises are set to enjoy a Christmas party with their staff this year, which is a rise of 10 per cent on last year. This is an encouraging sign as occasions to celebrate the festive season were cut dramatically in Ireland over the past five years and this soft indicator points to better economic times.
PADDY POWER BET SIZES
The average bet placed by Paddy Power customers rose by 5 per cent like-for-like in the second half of the year, compared with a 2 per cent rise in the first half. This is a significant show of confidence in the economy. The bigger the bet, the better the opinion of disposable income available to the punter. Equally good news is that the punters have been taking Paddy Power to the cleaners. Yay.
According to the Bank of Ireland Momentum survey, 42 per cent of Irish businesses have plans to recruit next year. The devastating pattern of decreasing employment turned during this year and this leading indicator sets the expectation that Ireland's employed population will grow again in 2014. This would have an immensely positive impact on the economy and so-badly-needed confidence.
In September, Ireland exported €118m less than the same month last year. This represents a 2 per cent contraction in our sales abroad. While this was expected due to the expiry in several of our pharma companies' drug patents, it still means that companies have less in their bank accounts which has a knock-on effect on their order books, profits and tax liabilities. In spite of competitive challenges and upward pressure on the euro, we need to continue to grow our trade surplus for the benefit of the economy.
Many Irish workers saw their working week slashed as the recession dug it's heels in. This has begun to slowly reverse as employers build back up the demand for their labour. The average working week increased by 0.3 per cent to 31.6 hours in Q2 of this year and assuming that the incremental time is paid for, this would be a jolly pleasant boost for employees, their households and the recipients of their disposable income.