Thursday 5 December 2019

'Mediocre' Irish jobless rate higher than in the UK and US

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Anne-Marie Walsh

The economy may be close to full employment but joblessness in Ireland is still higher than in the UK and 11 other EU states.

New official figures reveal that despite the grim economic predictions associated with the impending prospect of Brexit, the unemployment rate in the UK stands at just 3.8pc.

This compares with an Irish unemployment rate of 4.8pc.

However, our rate is still well below the average for the 28 EU states of 6.3pc, according to the latest Eurostat data published yesterday.

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One economist described Ireland's labour market performance as "mediocre" compared with other EU countries.

Senior economist Tom McDonnell, from the union-backed Nevin Economic Research Institute, said youth unemployment here was relatively high at more than 12pc.

"Ireland is a mid-table, mediocre performer," he said. "There is a narrative that we're doing brilliant but we're no great shakes compared with the countries we should be comparing ourselves with.

"Spain is lagging but it was hit very badly during the economic crisis. We're catching up, but are still behind the UK, Japan and US. We're not exceptional."

He said the UK and US had pursued better strategies after the economic crisis with expansionary fiscal policies that boosted their economies, but the eurozone recovered more slowly.

Mr McDonnell said he did not agree with economists who believed the economy was at full employment - and said that would mean an unemployment rate of 4pc or lower.

He said we were "miles behind" the top performing countries in terms of the portion of the population at work - due to problems like childcare costs.

Irish Independent

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