Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Economics 22/09/2009: Bleeding jobs...

CSO’s Quarterly National Household Survey (QHNS) Q2 2009 shows ongoing collapse in employment in the country. After peaking at 2.14mln in Q1 2008, employment has now steadily declined and is now down 8.2% - the steepest fall in the history of these series. My prediction – by the year end the fall will total around 8.2-8.5% in annual terms, marking the sharpest decline since 1960s. Current employment stands at 1,938,500 – below the politically important 2 million mark for the second quarter in a row. The pace of employment falloffs is accelerating – in Q1 2009 employment contracted by 7.5% yoy, in Q2 2009 the rate of decline was 8.2%.

Per Ulster Bank note: “To put this in an international context, employment in the US fell by 4.3% from its peak (in Q1 ’08) to the second quarter of this year and that in the UK fell by about 2% on the same basis. So, mirroring the comparative weakness in the broader economy, the Irish labour market is experiencing a much more severe adjustment in employment than is the case among our main trading partners.” Then again, they’ve got a bit more competent political leaderships in the US and UK, that doesn’t raise taxes to pay its cronies wages, don’t they?

Unemployment rate amongst males now stands at 15.1% up from 4.8% in Q2 2007. Female unemployment rate has risen from 4.4% in Q2 2007 to 8.1% in the latest survey. Overall unemployment has gone from 4.7% in Q2 2007 to 5.7% in Q2 2008 and 12% in Q2 2009.

Numbers employed in various sectors are shown in the table below. Public sectors still showing no signs of cost reductions while the rest of economy is bleeding jobs… Public sector employment in Q2 2008-2009 is up ca 16,000. Now, An Bord Snip Nua recommended total numbers reduction of 17,300, which, if delivered would still leave Ireland at ca 2007 levels of public sector employees. Are you laughing yet? For a country borrowing €400mln per week – good half of which goes to pay wages in the public sector – this is really an achievement.
Table above shows another disturbing trend - forced 'entrepreneurship' - notice how more robust are the numbers of self-employed with no employees through the downturn, actually rising between Q2 2007 and Q2 2009. This is a sign of more people being forced to take up self employment in view of lacking full time jobs.

Charts below illustrate some other trends.
Lastly, it is worth noting that QNHS-recorded 2,500 increase in labour force in Q2 2009 is a seasonal aberration as part time employment rises in the summer months. This is going to go into negative territory in Q3-Q4 2009.

We are on track to reach 15-15.5% unemployment sometime in mid 2010. And on track to get close to 10% long-term unemployment by mid 2011. That would be a fitting tribute to the Government that raises taxes in an economy experiencing severe recession...
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