Economic Performance

QNHS for 2010:Q4

Results from the Quarterly National Household Survey for 2010:Q4 are now available (press release here, full release here.)  The seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate for the quarter rose by one percentage point to 14.7%. This is a percentage point higher than the previously available proxy for the seasonally adjusted rate based on Live Register figures.

I’m not sure what the explanation is for such a large divergence between the QNHS and Live Register series for this quarter. One possible factor is that some people are now reaching the expiry of their benefit eligibility and thus falling off the Live Register while still being unemployed. The different behaviour for 2010:Q4 doesn’t seem to reflect a big drop in the labour force, due to emigration for example, because the decline in the labour force was of a similar magnitude to previous quarters.

25 replies on “QNHS for 2010:Q4”

“I’m not sure what the explanation is for such a large divergence between the QNHS and Live Register series for this quarter.”

The fact that FF had a pretty good idea coming into the last Q in 2010 that their goose was starting to look cooked and they might be facing an election Q1 2011 may have been a contributing factor?

As I have often said on this site – we could not believe the unemployment figures we were being fed as they were massaged to hell. I hope the new administration doesn’t follow the same path. People need to know the reality, not the spin.

What I found most interesting was the relative stability of employment in the food and accommodation sector. I think this shows that there is no justification for wage cuts in that sector. The real story in that sector is not job losses, but that Irish nationals are displacing foreign nationals in that sector. Irish national employment actually increased in that sector. This is probably an indicator of foreign nationals having less secure employment.

I did think it odd however that there was a little bump in employment in that sector in Q4 2009. I can’t think of any reason. Any explanations?

The report also contains figures for the population aged 15 plus, which, in recent years, has been used by economists as the most up-to-date indicator of net migration. Harking back to the recent disputes on this site between myself and ESRI regarding the level of net emigration, the figures totally support what I posted and refute the ESRI claims. The figures indicate that net emigration peaked at 34.500 annually towards the end of 2009 and early 2010, but has been falling since, to around 28,000-30,000 in the year to 2010 Q4, not the 60,000 and rising that ESRI claimed during the election campaign.

However, coming from north of the artificial border, I am fully aware of the importance of not condemning someone unless the evidence provides 100 per cent proof. So, it is only fair to note that the ESRI case is that the CSO figures are wrong. Only time will tell. If they are wrong, then ESRI will have been vindicated and the CSO will have lost a considerable number of brownie points. However, the CSO inter-census figures were spot-on in each of the last few census, and I am happy to give them the benefit of the doubt at this stage. If the CSO’s excellent record is maintained in this coming census, then ESRI’s reputation for population and migration forecasting will be in tatters and the function will have to be removed from them. It will also mean that democracy will have been subverted, since, in that eventuality, the election campaign will be seen to have been conducted against the background of false migration estimates, just as I posted here at the time. It will also mean that confidence in the housing market will have been needlessly undermined since, in that eventuality, the difference between the actual population that the census reveals and the ESRI estimate for that population will differ by no less than 120,000.

However, rather than go on in full prosecutor mode, I am prepared to await the census results. Following the QNHS report today, I sent a polite email to Professor Alann Barrett of ESRI and got a polite email back. I am happy to leave it at that for now, but be assured that the sparks will fly if the census results back up the current CSO estimates. This is the email I sent and the reply I received:

Dear Professor Barrett,

I would like to draw your attention to the population (aged 15 plus)
figures in today’s CSO QNHS report, which I am sure you are allready aware of. I would be interested to know if you have any comment on these
population figures, either in reply to this email or publicly.

Quite simply, the CSO figures do not support the claims you made (during
the election campaign) for the level of net emigration from Ireland, which
received massive publicity both in the campaign and abroad, and which may well have affected the outcome to a significant, although certainly not
decisive, extent.

I am aware of your position, of course, which is that the CSO have simply
got the figures wrong in their QNHS reports and are under-estimating the
level of net emigration and over-estimating the current population level. I
do not wish to be dogmatic and assert beyond doubt that the CSO figures
are correct. I am happy to keep an open mind and await the census
results. If these do indeed confirm that the CSO QNHS population (aged
15 plus) figures are wrong, as you suggest, then the CSO will have some
explaining to do, and you will be totally vindicated.

However, as of now, we have little choice but to take the CSO figures at
face value and analyse them on that basis for what they are worth. Doing
this yields the following:

population aged 15 plus:

2007 Q1 3,442.9 thousand
2007 Q2 3,462.5 thousand
2007 Q3 3,487.6 thousand
2007 Q4 3,512.3 thousand

2008 Q1 3,519.7 thousand
2008 Q2 3,514.9 thousand
2008 Q3 3,529.7 thousand
2008 Q4 3,533.9 thousand

2009 Q1 3,531.5 thousand
2009 Q2 3,523.8 thousand
2009 Q3 3,526.2 thousand
2009 Q4 3,521.0 thousand

2010 Q1 3,516.0 thousand
2010 Q2 3,512.4 thousand
2010 Q3 3,512.7 thousand
2010 Q4 3,512.2 thousand

annual change in population aged 15 plus:

2008 Q1 +76.8 thousand
2008 Q2 +52.4 thousand
2008 Q3 +42.1 thousand
2008 Q4 +21.6 thousand

2009 Q1 +11.8 thousand
2009 Q2 +8.9 thousand
2009 Q3 -3.5 thousand
2009 Q4 -12.9 thousand

2010 Q1 -15.5 thousand
2010 Q2 -11.4 thousand
2010 Q3 -13.5 thousand
2010 Q4 -8.8 thousand

On this basis, it would appear that net emigration peaked in the year to
2010 Q1 and has been running at a lower rate in the second half of 2010
than in the second half of 2009. The CSO estimate is for net emigration of
34,500 in the year to April 2010. The latest QHHS figures would indicate
that this had fallen to a net outflow of 28,000-30,000 in the year to 2010
Q4, considerably less than the 60,000 you claimed during the election

I repeat that this analysis is based on the working assumption that the CSO
figures are correct. If, as you suggest, they are not, then you will be
totally vindicated. If, however, the CSO inter-census figures turn out
to be correct, as they have been for all recent census, then I trust that
you will have an adequate explanation as to why your own highly-publicised estimates during the election campaign were so inaccuarate.

Yours Sincerely,

John XxXxxxx

And this is his reply:

Hi John:

As I said before, I’d prefer to wait until the Census results are in before
discussing further. But rest assured, if the forecasts were wrong, I will
admit this.


As I said, I am happy to leave it at that for now. But, someone will have a case toanswer when the census results are published.

Employment fell 64,500 in the year which is equivalent to the level of total unemployment in 1973 – – obviously related tto a smaller workforce.

164,000 job losses in construction since its peak in 2007.

Public sector employment fell 24,000 to 403,000, in the 2 years to Dec 2010 while the total workforce fell by 232,000.

Unemployment of 1 year of more is classified as long term.

In the year to Q4 2010, the number of persons classified as long-term unemployed increased by 64,800 (+72.7%), bringing long-term unemployment to 153,900. Short-term unemployment decreased by 32,000 (-18.3%) over the year to 143,000. Long-term unemployment now accounts for 51.5% of total unemployment compared to 33.3% in Q4 2009 and 22.2% in Q4 2008.

There are likely to be a few thousand banking jobs added to the jobless while emigration opportunities may not have been as high as expected.

It’s a lot of Croke Parks to fill if dependents are included.

With regard to the level of emigration again, I note a speech made by Professor James Wickham, director of the Employment Research Centre at Trinity College Professor from TCD that was reported in the media last weekend. He is basically saying what I posted here many times in the past year.

This is what the report says: “The numbers emigrating from Ireland are completely exaggerated”, a leading academic has claimed.

Does anyone here know him? I never heard of him. Could he be persuaded to post on here and outline his argument?

If the numbers emigrating from Ireland are being completely exaggerated, as he says, and which today’s QNHS report seems to confirm (subject to the qualification I mentioned in my previous post), then the next questions to be asked are: (a) who is doing the exaggeration? (b) for what purpose are they doing it?

@JTO – you keep saying that you will wait until the census yet you torture us with the repetition of the same old stuff. Just move on. Of course you are only trying to divert from the real news here – unemployment rate is up by 1% (did you forecast that).

I assume that the QNHS includes all unemployed unlike the Live Register which does not include the “Self Employed Unemployed”. These are the forgotten people in our country who are suffering dreadful hardship as they are entitled to claim nothing when their businesses have to close . It appears that none of the Academic Think Tanks see it as important enough to find out what is happening to these people. These are the risk takers who have helped create employment and wealth in the country but are treated as total outcasts. Governments and Academics need to realise that there will be no new wealth creation and job creation so long as this group are caste into outer darkness to fend for themselves in this depression.

It is totally untrue that the self-employed have been forgotten. Sure didn’t that nice Mr. McGrath, FF, *spit*, ex-chair of the Finance Committee, ensure that the self-employed would pay an additional 3% levy on the top rate of tax?


James Wickham lectured me in Sociology in TCD in the academic year 1982-83. I recall he was particularly interested in the sociology of work,etc. So he’s been in Ireland a long time and knows what he’s talking about.

From CSO

On a seasonally adjusted basis, employment fell by 16,200 (-0.9%) in the
quarter. This follows on from a seasonally adjusted fall in employment of
22,700 (-1.2%) in Q3 2010.

The average employment level in 2010 was 80,700 or 4.2% lower than the level recorded in 2009. This follows a decrease of 171,100 or 8.1% between 2008 and 2009.

If there ever was need to divert the bloody bank money into a massive job creation, surely it is now.
Suggest national broadband system and planting 50,000 hectares of trees to start.

It will also mean that democracy will have been subverted, since, in that eventuality, the election campaign will be seen to have been conducted against the background of false migration estimates

I think calling incorrect forecasting a subversion of democracy might be pushing it just a bit dontcha think, John?

Ooh. That’s bad.

Some other snippets. The gap in the number of females compared to the number of males in permanent employment continues to grow.

More males are “assisting relative” than females (the higher number flipped in Q3).

@ JtO

I don’t really see your point. All you present are figures on population. We have a bit of a baby boom at the moment, which can explain the stable population.

It is possible to have net emigration and a growth in population.

Anyway the ESRI just made a forecast. Met Éireann often get it wrong too.


sorry, just realised you referred to age 15+.

But there are other determinants of population other than migration

Also, a case can be made that moving from east Donegal to Derry City isn’t really emigration.

“One possible factor is that some people are now reaching the expiry of their benefit eligibility and thus falling off the Live Register while still being unemployed.”

I thought people could stay on the dole forever in Ireland…

Is it possible that the media and the word on the street is wrong?

You may get Jobseeker’s Allowance if you don’t qualify for Jobseeker’s Benefit or if you have used up your entitlement to Jobseeker’s Benefit. In some cases, if you are only entitled to a reduced rate of Jobseeker’s Benefit you may be better off on Jobseeker’s Allowance. However, Jobseeker’s Allowance is means-tested and your means must be below a certain level to qualify.

My understanding is that people who move down to JA after being on JB are advised to continue to sign on even if the means testing means that they’re not entitled to receive any payment, as the ‘stamps’ still accrue for pension purposes.

Assuming they follow that advice, they’re still included in Live Register figures.


Clearly not a lot personal experience of JB and obviously none at all of JA.
Having worked in the private sector all my life, I have good experience of JB.

If a person whose “stamps” run out, now after 52 weeks but used to be 104 weeks back in 1980’s, he or she may apply for JA. But if a wife/husband or partner is working, then as JA is means tested there is really no benefit to be gained from continuing to sign on for the vast majority of people.

The pension Aedin refers to must be State pension contributory which is paid at 66 or 67 from 2021. At present this requires approx 10 years contributions, though the rules keep changing.
So a retired Garda who retires on full pension at 50 or teacher at 55 can work in the private sector for 10 years and get a full State contributory pension on top of his or her civil service pension.
A person who has worked 40 years in the private sector will get the same pension!!.
A little room for saving there!!


as well as a minimum number of contributions, there’s an average annual contributions requirement, as far as I understand it – to get the max. contributory pension, you have to have an average of 48 (of 52) contributions over the years since you first contributed; these contributions can be actual or credited. So I still think that there’s a strong incentive for former JB recipients to sign on once they exhaust JB and move to JA.

Of course, whether people understand that incentive and respond to it is another matter – and you seem to be saying that in your experience, people don’t. In that case, Karl’s suggested explanation for the upward revision is perfectly reasonable.

I think I heard Sean Whelan saying on RTE yesterday that the explanation for the revision was that the usual seasonal increase in employment that had been assumed in calculating the between-QNHS estimates of unemployment hadn’t happened in the last quarter of 2010. I can imagine that the weather and anticipated January paypacket budget effects might have supressed the usual extra hiring for Christmas, so this seems plausible too.

@Aedin – Indeed Christmas might have reduced the number of emigrants i.e. if you decide to leave in November you might as well hang on until after Christmas.

,blockquote>1. plant trees
2. sell forest to Chinese
3. profit?

You will need a good bit more than that riposte to convince me that a huge tree planting does not make sense.
1. The people planting the tress would come from the unemployed building workers. The incremental cost of employment is very low.
2. The long term value is in a switch to alternative heating fuel.
Of course it takes a switch to longer term or even an inter-generational thinking. It certainly would not make market sense to a market trader who is looking for a quick buck. If you care to try some calculation at about €300 per barrel for oil in about 20 years, you might begin to see some sense. Or perhaps not. Maybe you would just prefer that we all froze to death in 20 years time.

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