Thursday, June 7, 2012

7/6/2012: QNHS Q1 2012: First results

The latest QNHS results for Q1 2012 are out. Headline readings from CSO release:

  • There was an annual decrease in employment of 1.0% or 18,100 in the year to the first quarter of 2012, bringing total employment to 1,786,100. 
  • This compares with an annual decrease in employment of 0.8% in the previous quarter and a decrease of 2.9% in the year to Q1 2011.
  • On a seasonally adjusted basis, employment fell by 7,300 (-0.4%) in the quarter. This follows on from a seasonally adjusted increase in employment of 11,100 (+0.6%) in Q4 2011.
  • Unemployment increased by 13,300 (+4.5%) in the year to Q1 2012. This brings the total number of persons unemployed to 309,000 with male unemployment increasing by 3,600 (+1.8%) to 205,400 and female unemployment increasing by 9,800 (+10.4%) to 103,600.
  • The long-term unemployment rate increased from 7.8% to 8.9% over the year to Q1 2012. Long-term unemployment accounted for 60.6% of total unemployment in Q1 2012 compared with 55.1% a year earlier and 40.9% in the first quarter of 2010.
  • The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased from 14.5% to 14.8% over the quarter.
  • The total number of persons in the labour force in the first quarter of 2012 was 2,095,100, representing a decrease of 4,800 (-0.2%) over the year. This compares with an annual labour force decrease of 32,800 (-1.5%) in Q1 2011.
We have the above data to offset the incessant chatter from the Government about stabilizing unemployment and jobs creation. The success of the Irish State unemployment activation programmes and training schemes is clearly some time off, despite more than a year of current policies and the build-up of similar activation efforts under the previous Government.

Now to more detailed analysis. This post will focus on top-of-the-line numbers and subsequent posts will look at sectoral breakdown and other details.

Labor force participation has fallen to 2,107,800 in Q1 2012, down from 2,113,400 in Q4 2011 and down on the peak of 2,251,400 in Q1 2008. The annual rate of decline of 0.3% in Q1 2012 is shallower than Q1 2010-2011 rate of -1.6% and Q1 2009-2010 rate of -2.6%. Which is good news, kind of.


Numbers of those not in the labor force rose to 1,390,500 in Q1 2012 up from 1,389,600 in Q4 2011 - a shallow hike. Year on year, the rise was 0.2%, much more mild than 1.75% hike in Q1 2010-2011 and 2.94% rise in Q1 2009-2010. Again, sort of good news.

Numbers in employment fell to 1,800,300 in Q1 2012 from 1,807,600 in Q4 2011. (See breakdown of full v part time employment below). Again, the anual rate of change trend is toward shallower declines. In Q1 2011-2012 the rate of decline was 1.0%, against -2.85% in Q1 2010-2011 and -5.46% in Q1 2009-2010. At the peak, there were 2,140,600 in employment, now the number is down 340,300.


Overall number of unemployed rose from 307,300 in Q4 2011 to 312,800 in Q1 2012. At the lowest point in recent history we had 94,200 unemployed. Unemployed counts rose 4.6% y/y in Q1 2012, compared to growth of 8.13% in Q1 2011 and 24.54% in Q1 2010.


Both full-time and part-time unemployment levels shrunk in Q1 2012. Full-time employment is down to 1,383,500 in Q1 2012 from 1,385,000 in Q4 2011, while part-time employment is down to 417,900 in Q1 2012 from 422,300 in Q4 2011. Y/y full-time employment is down 0.6% compared to Q1 2011 y/y decline of 4.47% and Q1 2010 y/y drop of 7.25%. Part-time employment is down 2.1% in Q1 2012, against a rise of 3.24% in Q1 2011 and a rise of 1.847% in Q1 2010.


Unemployment rate has now reached its crisis-period peak of 14.8, more than erasing the slight moderation achieved in Q3 2011 to Q4 2011 (drop from 14.6% to 14.5%). A year ago, just as the new Government came to power, the unemployment rate stood at 14.1%. Of course, the previous Government has presided over much more dramatic rise in unemployment rates. In addition, economic conditions that the current Government has inherited clearly do not warrant much of optimism, especially in such sticky series as unemployment. Thus, the current numbers are not the matter for a blame game.


Participation rate has remained flat at 60.3% in Q1 2012, same as in Q4 2011, but is down from 60.4% in Q1 2011. At the peak we had participation rate of 64.1%.

The above has meant that our dependency ratios worsened in Q1 2012. Ratio of those employed to the rest of the working age population has fallen from 65.35% in Q4 2011 to 65.22% in Q1 2012. In Q1 2011 this ratio stood at 65.80% and in Q1 2010 it was 70.90%. At the beginning of the crisis the ratio was 98.80%. In other words, the proportion of those working in the economy is declining.

Summary of headline stats:


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