Worrying job figures ignored in fuss over resignation of Tanaiste
Monday's jobs figures for the first three months of 2014 got less media coverage than usual as the country's attention was focused on election results and the Tanaiste's resignation.
That the numbers got little attention was probably just as well. They were not encouraging. They showed that the remarkable increase in employment from the middle of 2012 until the end of 2013 came to a shuddering halt at the beginning of this year.
In the first quarter of 2014 the numbers at work in the economy, when seasonal fluctuations are stripped out, stood at 1.9 million, almost unchanged on the previous quarter. This followed five consecutive very strong quarterly increases in employment. Indeed, the rate of jobs growth was so strong from the middle of 2012 to the final quarter of last year that it topped the league among the 28 members of the EU in the period. The first quarter figures disappointed not only because the numbers at work are a hugely important indicator in terms of national well being, but because most other indicators (including separate figures on those claiming unemployment benefit) pointed to jobs growth in early 2014.