Labour force figures released last week indicate that the level of job creation in the South East has outpaced the national average since the first quarter of 2015.
This surprising but welcome disclosure, released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) suggests that the region’s Action Plan for Jobs, which kicked in at the start of 2015, has made positive inroads. However, the unemployment rate of 7.2% remains above the State average of 6%.
The CSO figures for the second quarter of 2018 revealed that job growth in the region has increased by 12.6% since Q1 2015, with the State average for the same period coming in at 11.9%. This equates to 21,300 new jobs.
Incidentally, the Action Plan for Jobs (APJ) target for the unemployment rate is to be within one per cent of the national average by 2020.
As an APJ statement notes: “Perhaps the most positive aspect of the labour force survey figures is that the gains achieved by the South East cannot be attributed to outward migration as the labour force has increased by 13,800 people during the time period of Q1 2015 to Q2 2018. The number of people who are unemployed has dropped by a third, from 22,300 to 14,800.”
Said South East APJ Chairman Frank O’Regan: “There is a wealth of economic activity taking place in the region. In the technology sector we can see infrastructural developments at Arclabs in Waterford, Hatch labs in Gorey, and the new Enniscorthy technology park. This is enhanced by the formation of the Crystal Valley tech cluster and the new South East NDRC accelerator funding programme. In the FDI space we see the IDA recording the largest percentage regional job growth in the South East in 2017 and the state-of-the-art manufacturing facility at West Pharma opening in July.”
Mr O’Regan added: “By the end of September we will have the application for designation for Technological University from Waterford Institute of Technology and the Institute of Technology Carlow; in early 2019 both the New Ross and Enniscorthy bypasses will open and improve the connectivity within the region in a major way; and we look forward to significant local authority developments at the North Quay in Waterford, the Abbey Quarter in Kilkenny, and Trinity Wharf in Wexford”
Frank O’Regan concluded: “There are still many challenges for the region to tackle but the figures show that we are moving in the right direction. We need to maintain the positive activity of everyone involved in job creation in the region and work towards building resilience in the economy that will buffer us against any future downturns