Monday, January 30, 2012

30/1/2012: Irish Long-term Unemployment Saga

Unemployment figures, by age - distinguish youth and adult unemployment - have been preoccupying many analysts in recent weeks. Loads of media attention has been paid - internationally, if not in Ireland - to the plight of youth unemployment. In the next several posts, I will take a closer look at the data for EU27, including Ireland. All of the data comes courtesy of the Eurostat and covers the latest available period Q3 2011.

First, let's take a look at long term unemployment (defined as unemployment spell of 12 months or more) and very long-term unemployment (defined as 24 months or more).

Table below summarizes the data:

As you can see, we are not exactly a good performer. Prior to the crisis, Irish long-term unemployment averaged just 1.4% of the active age population - 23rd lowest in the group of EU27 plus Norway. In Q3 2011 our long-term unemployment stood at 8.8% - the third highest in the sample of 28 states. Over the period covered we have experienced an increase in long-term unemployment of 7.4 percentage points - the steepest rise in the EU27+Norway.

Matters are even worse when it comes to very long-term unemployment, where our rate has moved from  0.7% average for Q3 readings pre-crisis to 5.4% in Q3 2011 - an increase of 4.7 percentage points. Only Slovakia (6.0%) is worse performer than Ireland in terms of overall very long-term unemployment rate and we are the absolute worst in the EU27 + Norway group in terms of increase in very long-term unemployment.

Here is a chart to illustrate some of the above:

\Broken down by gender:

Long-term unemployment rates for men and women:

Ireland used to rank 22 in the EU 27+Norway in the size of its long-term unemployment pool amongst the males prior to the crisis. By Q3 2011 we had the highest rate of male long-term unemployment. We fared much better in terms of long-term female unemployment, moving from the lowest unemployment in the sample of countries prior to the crisis to 9th highest position. However, in both male and female long-term unemployment, Ireland experienced the largest and second largest, respectively, increases during the crisis.

Things are even worse for Irish very long-term unemployed figures. Prior to the crisis, very long term unemployment amongst Irish males averaged 1.0% (22nd highest in the EU27+Norway). In Q3 2011 that number rose to 7.5% (the highest in the EU27+Norway). This increase was the largest in the sample of countries over the period.

Very long-term unemployment amongst the females in Ireland averaged just 0.4% in pre-crisis period - third lowest in the EU27+Norway sample. In Q3 2011 this rose to 2.4% - 10th highest reading in the sample. Ireland's rate of increase in female very long-term unemployment was the fastest in the EU27 + Norway group of countries.

In the next post we will take a look at the unemployment figures by age.
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