Jobs growth slows with 1,700 created in first quarter
THE economy continued to create jobs in the first few months of the year but at a slower pace than before.
The number of people in full-time jobs is continuing to grow but the number with part-time jobs fell in the first quarter of 2014, the Central Statistics Office said yesterday.
Employment grew by just 1,700 in the first three months of the year – a 0.1pc rise. That compares to 10,600 in the final months of last year.
Experts described the figures as disappointing, but said the underlying picture remained one of an improving jobs market. They claimed a fall-off in the amount of part-time work had contributed to the weaker figure, but pointed out that numbers in full-time jobs were rising too.
Despite the slowdown, employment was up 42,700 by the end of March compared with the same time last year.
Professor John FitzGerald of the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) said he was still predicting significant growth overall this year.
"I suspect that you'll go back to significant growth in the second and third quarter in employment, but it is less than in the previous two quarters," he told the Irish Independent.
"I wouldn't change my forecasts for the year, which is for very significant growth overall, year on year."
But Fianna Fail's jobs spokesman Dara Calleary said the slowdown signalled complacency on the part of the Government.
"While any year-on-year increase in employment is certainly welcome, the fall-off in the numbers on the Live Register over the past quarter is worrying," he said.
"We have been warning for some time that the Government has taken its eye off the ball when it comes to tackling the unemployment crisis, particularly outside Dublin and particularly when it comes to helping those stuck in long-term unemployment."
The latest CSO data shows the unemployment rate was at 12pc, down from 12.2pc, while the rate of long-term jobless fell from 8.4pc to 7.3pc in the first three months compared with the same period last year.
A closer look at the data shows that there was an increase of 46,400 people in full-time employment, while the number in part-time work fell by 3,700.
Business lobby group IBEC said employment continues its upward trend, while the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association regarded the figures as a worry.