The latest figures from the Central Statistics Office reveal that for the first time in five years the number of people employed has begun to rise. This is the first annual rise in the employment rate since 2008.
This indicates that a glimmer of hope may be on the horizon. The economic recovery Ireland has been striving towards suddenly seems achievable. Retail, information technology, scientific activities, construction, finance and real estate all recorded employment growth over a period of two consecutive quarters.
Dublin and the south-west accounted for almost all of the growth in employment during the second half of last year, and also recorded the lowest unemployment rates at the end of 2012. Unfortunately, the news about the increase in employment levels might be considered an anti-climax with the realisation that most of the rise is down to part-time workers being hired as opposed to people finding full time employment.
There has been a gradual decline in the unemployment rate over the last year after it peaked at 15 per cent. However, because most of the decline was due to people under the age of 25 signing off the Live Register it is believed that an increase in emigration accounts for the decline.
It’s going to take a lot of work to rebuild our shattered economy and with a plan to have an extra 100,000 people employed by 2016 the employment figures will have to increase more dramatically over the next three years.