Jobs, Jobs, Jobs ; the General Election Battleground

This election will, in large part, be fought on the government saying “the economy was in rag order, we fixed it, reelect us”. A key element of this will be “we have created <insert large but not implausible number> jobs since we took over”. Missing will be any discussion of external circumstances but hey, its an election.

What is the real story?

First, the total. Below is the total employed in all sectors since 1998. All data are from the CSO QNHS databank.

Employment in Q2 1998 was  1.48m. Total employment peaked in Q3 2007 at 2.17m. By the time the election happened in Q1 2011 it was down to 1.84m. In Q3 2015 (latest data) it stood at 1.98m. Shaded is the government term. So in the FF era we saw an overall increase of just under 400k, or about 160k per government term. In this period we see about the same.


Where are they and where did they go? Different sectors peaked at different times. However, for illustration, lets keep the Q3 2007 peak as our benchmark.  The calamitous construction collapse is clear; what is perhaps less well understood is that across the board since taking office the government have had growth in pretty much every area (apart from education….the smart knowledge economy and all that). . Call it luck, call it good management, call it both, but it is a fact.


Next, structural changes in more detail. To make the graph (a tiny bit less in)comprehensible I have taken annual, not quarterly, changes.


Finally, where are the jobs? Where were they?


2 thoughts on “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs ; the General Election Battleground

  1. Frank Cronin

    Interesting, the linear relationship between construction and industry may suggest that much of industry is construction related. It may also suggest that some of our recovery is the construction simply filling the latent demand. The fact that oil, sterling and the dollar has also helped, covers how mediocre Fine Gael have been. Time to plan for an economy which can cope with corporation tax opportunism coming under pressure in next ten years. Look at Aberdeen, it didnt foresee that oil could go under the $50 a barrell which it required to be sustainable. A house built on a poor foundation can falter and usually when it happens, it happens because a number of unusual factors come together.

  2. bossbutteringbee

    I like your final slide best. It may show the mass transfer of employment of households post-crash from construction back to farming and also into menial jobs in retail, hospitality sector and health. The continuing decline of the industry and rise of ‘professional’ sector is worrying, likely reflecting in part the shift from knowledge-intensive MNC and indigenous employment to call centres and US social media giant sales/marketing operations.
    The burgeoning Health sector is striking. In combination with progressively falling satisfaction levels and a reasonably stable age distribution across the period it suggests falling productivity.
    The swaggering ICT and financial sectors show little growth, perhaps reflective of rising productivity accompanying progressive automation in the latter.
    Overall, with the exception of modest food sector growth, the shift to services is apparent. Sadly much of that is either non-exportable or relates to commodity services (call centres, back-office financial admin, health admin), unlike the industrial employment it replaces.


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