Unemployment falls to pre-recession lows
Unemployment dropped to 5.3pc in December, ending the year at the lowest level since February 2008, in a sign that the economy has finally shaken off the deep recession that hit with the financial crisis.
The economy added 20,000 jobs in 2018 as the rate of unemployment fell from 6.3pc 12 months earlier and marked an 11pc points fall from the peak of 16pc in 2012, according to data released by the Central Statistical Office.
“The rise in employment appears far from over,” said Alan McQuaid of consultancy Merrion Capital, who noted that the unemployment rate here was now 3pc points lower than the European Union average.
“The latest Labour Force Survey figures showed that the participation rate stood at 62.6pc in the third quarter, compared with a pre-recession peak of 66.7pc. Greater participation should slow down the fall in the jobless rate,” Mr McQuaid wrote in a research report.
The surge in the number of people in work has started to create skill shortages and put pressure on wages, Pawel Adrjan, economist at global job site Indeed.
Mr Ardjan noted that the rate of youth unemployment remained stubbornly high, despite the falls in the headline rate and said the government needed to provide young people with the skills and training to enter the labour force, or the economy risked bumping into labour shortages.
“Policy efforts that focus on providing improved training and skills to those without tertiary education, will help people enter or re-enter the labour force, particularly those who are long-term unemployed or young people without jobs,” he said.
The adjusted jobless rate for those aged 15-24 years remains high at 12.2pc. although it is down from 15.7pc at the end of 2016.