Quarterly National Household Survey for 2010:Q1

The latest QNHS figures have been released. They show the unemployment rate in the first quarter declining from 13.3% in 2009:Q4 to 12.9% in 2010:Q1. This will lead to a downward revision to the monthly Live Register based standardised unemployment rates, which had previously averaged 13.4%.

When the previous QNHS was released, I had expressed concern that the monthly Live Register figures may have started to underestimate true unemployment as expiry of eligibility for benefits saw people still seeking work falling off the Live Register. These figures show that this doesn’t seem to be a set pattern. The Live Register figures would have implied a small increase in the unemployment rate rather than a decrease.

A factor that is perhaps going in the other direction from the issue of benefit eligibility is that the QNHS measure of labour force participation continues to decline. It fell another three tenths in 2010:Q1 to stand at 61.2 percent, down from a peak of 64.6 percent in 2007:Q3. Over that period, male participation has fallen from 74.3 percent to 69.4 percent, while female participation has fallen from 55 percent to 53.2 percent. These declines in participation have been largely concentrated among the under 25s and the over 60s.

If some of these people deemed to be out of the labour force by the QNHS questions are still collecting unemployment benefits, then the Live Register measure will overstate unemployment as measured on the ILO basis.

The composition of unemployment is starting to become more skewed towards the long-term unemployed. In 2010:Q1, there were 112,600 long-term unemployed out of 275,000 unemployed in total. This compares with 49,100 long-term unemployed during the same quarter a year earlier when the total was 222,800.

10 replies on “Quarterly National Household Survey for 2010:Q1”

It is worth pointing out that despite having a higher unemployment rate than in the EU (3 p.p. higher), as of Q4 2009 (see table 25 of the pdf version of the release today) Ireland’s employment/population rate was still higher than the EU average.

In other words, the fall in the participation rate is bringing us to EU levels in terms of total employment. Or, we have more people in employment of working age than in the rest of Europe (albeit marginally). That said, given Europe’s ability to reclassify their unemployment and call it something else, this is no great shakes.

Does the QNHS give a good steer on net outward migration for the year?

Q1, 2009, 15 – 64, population 3,531,500
Q1, 2010, 15 – 64, population 3,516,000

Fall in 15-64 population 15,500

In April 2009, there were 288,100 people in the 10-14 age range and 207,500 in the 60-64 age range. If 1/5 of the 10-14 turn 15 in the year and 1/5th of the 60-64 turn 65 in the year, then you would have expected the 15 – 64 population to increase by 16,120 (288,100/5 – 207,500/5).

So instead of an increase of 16,120 in the 15-64 age group we have a decrease of 15,500. These people must have emigrated, no? So the net outward migration of 15 – 64 year olds was 31,620?

And given that there is one child for every 3.5 adults in the country and assuming the children weren’t abandoned, would it be fair to assume that 9,000 children net outward migrated with their parents?

So a net outward migration of 41,000? Compared to 8,000 for year ended April 2009.

Of course with our record breaking birth rate we would have had 77,000 new souls in the State and with our very low death rate 27,000 would have shuffled off this mortal coil. So an net increase of 50,000 naturally less 41,000 net outward migrants, ie a net overall increase of 9,000.

And 9,000 at 2.74 souls per home would need less than 4,000 homes. We built 10,000 last year and didn’t someone say we had an overhang of pre-existing empties, somewhere between 35-350,000?

And here’s the joke. The ESRI produced two population projections for 2010 – 2026, one was where net inward migration was nil and the other where it was +500,000. They didn’t even CONSIDER a net fall. 450,000 net inward migrants came here in 1994 – 2008. The ESRI didn’t even CONSIDER a net outward figure in 2010 – 2026.

And here’s the sick joke. NAMA are required to rely on the ESRI population projections (adoped by the DoEHLG) when predicting demand for property.

Yes – and there are more sick jokes in this one – total employment fell by 30,000 over the quarter – so where will the income tax and VAT increases needed to hit budget revenue targets come from? Good thing the government only promises our recovery is waiting for H2 because this sure confirms the “waiting” part.

I have absolutely no doubt that the unemployment figures in Ireland are fudged beyond belief. The only thing making them look even slightly better are the numbers who have left this country in the past two years.

Prospects for the already unemployed young and the new batch of school and college leavers are dire. Prospects for the growing ranks of long term unemployed are even worse. The number in the workforce fell by what? 5.5% over the 12 month period?

I don’t expect this government to do much about it as I’m sure it’s all part of the strategy to drive wages through the floor and ‘make Ireland more competitive’. It’s the only thing they seem to have their sights on. A race to the bottom.

What’s worse though is the cynical reaction towards the young by employers. There are plenty of unpaid intern positions available. I was just talking last week to a recent graduate who is working long hours (50+ a week) in a well known company, undertaking a real role, and isn’t even getting her bus fare to work from them. It saves them having to employ a real worker I suppose – just a minute … it saves them having to employ anyone at all to fill the role! There are lots of other examples.

Unpaid internships is turning into such an industry there are now ‘job sites’ for them. I presume they cannot claim unemployment benefit as they aren’t strictly speaking ‘available for work’ if they are working for free full time.

Employment is down 17,300 on the quarter, and the only reasons why the trend in the unemployment rate is negative are a fall in the 15+ population of 7,300 due to emigration outpacing natural growth, and another fall in labour market participation.

The sectoral trends are interesting. For almost the first time since the downturn started, construction is not the scene of greatest employment loss, with only 4,100 jobs being lost compared with a peak quarterly loss of 31,800 in Q1 2009. The biggest loss this time is in Agriculture/Forestry/Fisheries, which has lost 6,200. It’s strange how little commentary the loss of a cumulative 30% (34,900) of jobs in this sector since Q4 2008 has attracted outside the farming press. Taking a long term view, we should realistically have been expecting to converge on European norms for employment in agriculture, but the timing stinks.

The good news is that internationally traded industry seems to be stabilising, as far as it is possible to tell. Employment in “Industry” is down by just 1,600, following another small loss in the previous quarter. Employment in the business service sectors in which most internationally traded services businesses are located is up a shade.

Despite all the talk of cuts in public services, employment in Public Administration and Defence is up by 400 (up 300 on year); in Education by 1,400 (down 2,800 on year); and in Human Health and Social Work Activities by 1,000 (up 9,800 on year). It’s hard to detect the fingerprints of An Bord Snip Nua in those numbers.

We’re turning no corners here. Were still losing jobs in substantial numbers in absolute terms: 30,200 since Q4 2009 (not seasonally adjusted, but seasonal adjustments may be a bit dubious in current conditions). Its also clear that since peak employment in Q3 2007 (2,149,800) the extent of the overall loss of employment (-292,200) has been masked by the growth of part-time employment (up from 385,800 in Q3 2007 to 413,100 in Q1 2010). With falling overall numbers in employment this has resulted in 22.2% of the employed labour force now being in part-time employed, up from 17.9% in Q3 2007. What may also be worth noting is that for the first time since Q3 2007, the number of part-time workers actually fell by 6,400 in Q1 2010 – does this signal the limit of transfers to part-time employment as a means of limiting overall employment loss? With taxes on labour constituting such a high proportion of overall revenue it is hard not to see the labour market (employment level) as a, if not, the key factor that will influence our capacity to deal with the deficit situation (assuming that there is some limit to actual expenditure cuts that are politically achievable and publicly acceptable). On that, I see and agree with the recent threads “on austerity” that austerity pays limited dividends. I for one will not be calling any signs of recovery until we see employment growth on a steady basis qoq.

Employment growth!

Ha, that is a good one. The Irish are a one trick pony, dumping all available capital into banking, the can’t lose option! Everyone knows iot can’t lose, eventually. Why the alternative is unthinkable. So we will noit address it in any way. Government cannot create a healthy economy. It can create an unhealthy one!

The real economy is sick and getting sicker. Migration shows that those who are not gombeen connected are leaving. The pool of those who steal is getting smaller and their victims are fewer and less wealthy. Vampires who kill off their prey, starve.

The deficit is a massive stimulus that must be removed. NOW! Then let us see the extent of the Tiger economy. How long can we afford the massive transfers to the banks that enable them to pay their staff? Staff who are unproductive and economically useless? At least the public sector attempt to provide a service. What service do these bankers provide? Insurance companies? Real Estate? All the manicure and cosmetic parlours?

Instead we have the “brains” of the coutry poring over figures. How jolly! How pathetic! Also economically useless! What are you afraid of?

My wife resigned her job in the public sector, because she was not getting on with her PO boss, a man who had confessed to me that he was physically afriad that his work on a group of Irish companies could result in harm to him. Want to know the name of the group? They were “connected”. A shining example of tax evasion and exporting.

You people are cowardly. The gardai are afraid to do their job. A colleague of mine was investigating bank branches. He had been warned off by his superiors. His wife was butchered. He was moved into an office and left without duties.

I hope you pay all the loans and interest rate rises due!

I don’t wish to dispute that far too many are unemployed but the stats are slightly misleading in that those claiming benefit also include part-time workers. I work part-time and don’t claim for those days I don’t work as I can live reasonably well without claiming and anyway I don’t like dealing with social welfare unless it’s absolutely necessary.

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