Friday 17 January 2020

Weather, baby names and tying the knot: CSO release new facts and figures on life in Ireland

Grafton Street. Stock Image
Grafton Street. Stock Image

Anne-Marie Walsh

IRISH weather got wetter, women outnumbered men and Theodore, Frankie, Bonnie and Ivy were among the new entrants among the top 100 baby names last year.

Given the rainfall it’s hardly surprising that over five million holidays were taken abroad, with Spain the most popular destination, while over 73,000 people aged 80 or more held driving licenses.

The population is not far short of the five million mark, but the birth rate is falling.

Gay men are tying the knot more than women and heart disease is the biggest killer.

These are some of the facts revealed about the year just gone in a mixum gatherum of acts and figures published by the Central Statistics Office today.

Ireland’s Facts and Figures 2019 indicates that some elements of the boom years are back. But there is little sign of the property bubble seen by some to have landed us in an economic mess last time around.

Smoked salmon prices are up over 7pc while store cupboard staple - jam – has plummeted for some reason.

The cost of other non-essentials like stout, cigarettes, and cinema tickets are also up.

But price wars between traditional supermarkets and the big discount chains may be behind a fall in the price of striploin steak, broccoli, mushrooms and bananas.

The economy is performing well with GDP growth of 8pc between 2017 and 2018 but house price hikes slowed dramatically to 0.9pc in the year to last October. An Eircode area in Naas had the most new homes built, according to the latest figures.

A career in construction is not what it used to be and the share of apprentices who qualified in construction has plummeted from almost 50pc in 2010 to 20pc of all apprentices in 2016.

Our largest trading partner for exports is the US, followed by the UK and Germany while – highlighting our vulnerability to Brexit - our largest single supplier of imports is the UK, from whom 20pc of all goods are imported. However, imports from the US have risen by 55pc since 2015.

The numbers unemployed fell by 11pc in the 12 months to September last year and the number at work stands at 2.3 million.

Earnings are on the rise but there are big differences between sectors, with ICT workers on the highest earnings of €991 a week, and accommodation and food staff on the lowest. Wages are highest in Dublin but lowest in the border region.

There are still big problems for women and some minority groups in and out of the workplace.

A third who identify as LGBTI+ have experienced discrimination, the highest rate for any group. Gender was the most common ground for discrimination in the workplace.

Only one in nine CEOs in large companies were women.

The country has come a long way in terms of internet use, with 91pc of all households having access. But this has come with its own problems and 2pc in users have experienced online identify theft while one in ten fell victim to phishing and pharming.

Depressingly, average rainfall has risen, and stood at 1,224 millimetres in 2018 compared to 912 in 1971.

On the environmental front, the government does not appear to be winning the battle to get people to use public transport.

The number of public bus and coach passenger journeys fell from a yearly average of 234m in 2005 to 2009 to 226m in 2018.

Just 2pc of women are cycling to work, compared with 6pc in 1986.

There is some good news in terms of road safety as the number killed has fallen by 9pc - or 14 fatalities. But this still means that 142 people were killed on Irish roads in 2018.

Renewable energy accounts for almost a third of electricity generation but three counties are still not connected to the gas network.

In agriculture, oats, potatoes and wheat are in decline, but barley is bucking the trend. Cows are the most plentiful livestock with over seven million of them in our fields.

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