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Economy in Brief

Good Growth in Irish Employment; Unemployment Rate Low in Q2
by Carol Stone September 14, 2005

As we monitor large economies around the world, it's easy to lose track of their smaller neighbors. Ireland's Central Statistics Office reported employment and unemployment data this morning for Q2. The labor market there is strong and undergoing an interesting structural shift.

Employment shot up in Q2 by 20,900 from Q1, producing a 93,000 increase from Q2 a year ago, a substantial 5.1% growth rate. In comparison, employment in the UK, which was reported today for the three months centered on June, grew by 1.11% year-on-year, and that was the fastest rate since last November (the three months centered on November), when it was just marginally higher, 1.14%. Further for Ireland, whose data are not seasonally adjusted, the increase was also the biggest for Q2 over Q1 in five years, since 2000.

The Irish unemployment rate rose very modestly from 4.1% in Q1 to 4.2% in Q2. Even so, these two quarters have the lowest six-month average rate since 2001. The rate peaked at 5.1% in Q3 2003. Impressively, the low unemployment is being maintained at high levels of labor force participation. The participation rate reached 61.5% in Q2, a record for Q2, and 1.5 percentage points above Q2 2004.

One might think of Ireland as a manufacturing-centered country, but it, as others, has seen that sector diminish. Factory jobs fell to 294,200 in Q2, the first Q2 figure below 300,000 in the eight-year history of the series and down from a peak of 330,700 in Q3 2001. Notably, though, "industry" as a whole has held steady as construction jobs have taken up the slack. Services are responsible for the firm overall growth in jobs, with several individual sectors advancing steadily -- finance, education and health care, most notably.

Not Seasonally Adjusted
Q2 2005 Q1 2005 Q2 2004 2004 2003 2002
Employment (thousands) 1929.2 1908.3 1836.2 1865.0 1810.6 1777.0
  Yr/Yr %Chg 5.1 3.9 2.4 3.0 1.9 1.8
Unemployment Rate (%) 4.2 4.1 4.4 4.5 4.7 4.4
Participation Rate (%) 61.5 61.0 60.0 60.7 50.1 60.0
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