Friday, January 9, 2009

Unemployment and more

As was widely predicted, December implied unemployment rate (based on Live Register figures) came in at 8.3%. According to CSO:
"The seasonally adjusted Live Register total increased from 277,200 in November to 293,500 in December, an increase of 16,300."

The unadjusted LR came in with a much higher increase of 22,777 - a number that might be actually closer to the reality on the ground, as seasonality adjustments are likely to underestimate the extent of actual jobs destruction in the recessionary economy.

For persons of 25 years of age and over (the prime earners' category), newly unemployed males outnumbered females almost 2:1 - a trend that underpins unemployment growth throughout the year.
Overall, there are now 293,500 seasonally adjusted individuals on the unemployment assistance in Ireland, implying the unemployment rate of 8.3%. However, this assumes static population figures. In reality, it is highly likely that net outward migration from Ireland has actually reduced the size of the available labour force in the country. If so, the actual unemployment rate should be higher than 8.3%.

Whether the actual unemployment rate is 8.3% or 8.5% is a moot point when one considers that we started 2008 with an implied unemployment rate of 4.9%. It is now clear that we are on-trend to reach 12% unemployment mark by the end of 2009 - so much for yet another childishly inaccurate DofFinance forecast of 7.3% unemployment for 2009!

On a bit more encouraging side

Yesterday's CSO data on industrial production has shown some positive signs of life in, it is worth saying, extremely volatile series. Here are some charts:
First chart above shows a robust pick up across the entire manufacturing sector in November. So much for 'uncompetitive' manufacturing story, but do not a massive overall increase in the range of volatility last year compared to 2007.
The second chart shows that most of the November increase can be accounted for by the 'Modern' sectors - aka US multinationals. This is quite interesting as December Exchequer returns have shown a massive (20%) drop in corporate tax receipts, suggesting that increased multinationals' activity was associated with increased transfer pricing. Exchange rate movements - stronger Euro - did not help either, exacerbating the impact of transfer pricing.
Really positive piece of news in on expectations front, with all but two sub-sectors (Basic Chemicals and Office Machinery & Computers) shown upward trending new orders for 2008.

These charts re-enforce the argument that I have been making for years now - Ireland Inc's productivity is wholly dependent on one source for growth: foreign firms. Forget the talk about somehow intrinsically better quality of our labour force and regulatory regimes. The formula for any real success in 1990-2007 in this country is: get them in with low taxes, for there is no other reason for them to be here.

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