Employment at record high of 2.3 million
THE Irish workforce is bigger than it has ever been after rising to over 2.3 million people at the start of the year.
New figures show there was a 3.7pc increase in the number of people with jobs with 81,200 extra in employment in the year to March.
This compares with an increase of 2.9pc or 62,400 people in employment in the previous 12 months.
Ireland’s employment rate is now higher than the EU average, according to the Central Statistics Office’s latest Labour Force Survey.
However, senior statistician Edel Flannery pointed out that the size of the workforce reflects population growth and employment rates have been higher in the past.
Employment has now been on the increase since the second half of 2012.
Economist Dan O’Brien, who attended the launch of the findings in Dublin this morning, said he was pleasantly surprised at the growth levels given the looming threat posed by Brexit.
“It is surprisingly good news given the concerns around Brexit and the original deadline of March 31 that would have been expected to prompt companies to hold off on hiring,” he said.
“This is really strong growth, although I would say we’ll see it drop back in the next quarter”.
The biggest growth was in the transport and storage sector, where employment grew by over 11pc or 10,800 people.
This was followed by over 10pc growth in administrative and support service activities.
But the largest rate of decrease was in agriculture, forestry and fishing, where the numbers at work fell by over 8pc or 9,500 people.
In addition, while the number of employees grew by over 5pc to 1.9 million the number of self employed workers fell by 4pc to 323,900.
The survey also shows that the number of women getting jobs outpaced men.
There were over a million women at work by the end of March this year – a hike of 5pc or 50,400 women.
In comparison, the number of men in employment grew by 2.5pc or 30,800 to 1.2 million.
The number of full time workers grew by 3.5pc or 62,600 while the number of part timers rose faster by over 4pc or more than 18,600 workers.
However, more than a fifth of part timers were “underemployed” – or did not have enough work.
There were 106,900 people in this category at the start of the year – although the figure has fallen by 6,900 or 6pc in the last year.
The figures also show that the number of people in the labour force – which includes those without jobs – was up 2.7pc to 2.4 million.
The number not in the labour force was 1.4 million, up almost 1pc or 9,900 from a year earlier.
Long term unemployment has fallen, with the rate down from 2.1pc to 1.7pc.
The number of people classified as long term unemployed is now 40,900 – down over 18pc.
Meanwhile, the portion of those aged 15 years or over in the workforce – the so called participation rate – rose from 61.6pc last year to 62pc.
Statistician Jim Dalton said the rise in employment between the first three months of last year and this year is a key finding of the latest Labour Force Survey.
He said when adjusted for seasonal factors, employment increased by 1.5pc or 35,200 between the end of last year and the first three months this year.
There were 114,400 people unemployed at the start of the year, down 14pc or 18,600 in the last 12 months.