Regional Economic Monitor shows Waterford left behind

Most of the key economic indicators show that the south east region is growing, but much more slowly than the State and the other eight regions of Ireland according to the latest South East Economic Monitor.
The second annual South East Economic Monitor was published on Saturday last by a trio from Waterford Institute of Technology’s School of Business, Dr Cormac O’Keeffe, John Casey and Dr Ray Griffin.
The Monitor shows that despite some signs of improvement, Waterford continues to be left behind and is not enjoying a fair share of the national recovery.
Despite steady decreases in the Live Register in Waterford (14.5% year-on-year decrease), Census 2016 shows that of the cities, Waterford City had the highest unemployment rate at 18.8%.
The rate of unemployment in the county as a whole was 15.4%, the eighth highest in the country and significantly higher than the State average of 12.9%. Waterford accounted for more than one in nine of the unemployment black spots in the country (areas with more than 27% unemployment rate).
Waterford is home to 2.4% of the population of the State but 3.3% of those on the Live Register.
Waterford also continues to be home to less than its fair share of IDA jobs. Between 2011 and 2016 the IDA created 51,793 net jobs. Waterford accounted for a mere 0.14% of these net additional jobs despite being home to 2.44% of the Irish population. Despite this, the number of IDA visits to county decreased significantly in 2016 to 17, from 31 in 2015.
There is also evidence of low job quality as the returns for taxes on work (PAYE, USC, and self-employed taxes) in Waterford are 58% of what one would expect based on population share.
Said Dr Cormac O’Keeffe: “The South East region is home to 10.7% of the national population, yet it is clear there is no plan to turn the regional economy around,” he says.
The region has seen a large drop in unemployment (from 12.5% in Q1 2016 to 9.3%) with 9,900 net new jobs and this is the first time unemployment is below 10% in eight years. However the quality of jobs in the South East is dramatically lower than the national average, and there is no evidence of this improving. This means incomes, disposable income and consumption in the South East is lower than the rest of the country.”
WIT Business School lecturer Dr Ray Griffin, says that the improvement in unemployment masks significant relative economic decline.
“The Government’s Action Plan for Jobs commitment to bring every region’s unemployment rate to within 1% of the national average has been achieved everywhere but the South East. We cannot see any Government action aimed at closing that gap,” he says.
* See next week’s edition for more reaction to the report.

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