Wednesday, November 26, 2014

26/11/2014: QNHS Q3 2014: Participation and Unemployment Rates

Key summary of the two previous posts is:

  1. Unemployment is falling across all durations and all demographic (age-defined) cohorts, but the pressure of long-term unemployment is rising in the cohort of older workers (40 years of age and older), and
  2. Irish economy added 27,600 jobs in a year though Q3 2014 compared to Q3 2013. but only 17,300 of these jobs were private sector non-agricultural jobs. On longer-term trend: Non-agricultural Private Sector employment in Q3 2014 was 13.83 lower than 2008 average and Agricultural employment was 4.9% lower. In contrast, Public and State-controlled Sectors employment in Q3 2014 was 3.56% higher than 2008 average. 

Now, lets take a look at the Labour Force Participation Rate. CSO defines this as "The labour force participation rate is computed as an expression of the number of persons in the labour force as a percentage of the working age population. The labour force is the sum of the number of persons employed and of persons unemployed."

In other words, any serious improvement in employment conditions should have one of the two effects:
1) Unemployed moving into employment have zero effect on participation; and
2) New jobs added for new workers (including those previously in unemployment who have left labour force or have moved into training and are now gaining jobs or re-entering workforce) should increase participation.

What do we have in Q3 2014? Judging by the above stats on total employment and unemployment numbers, we should see an improvement in participation rates.

Based on CSO data, Q3 2014 participation rate stood at 60.4, down 0.3 points on Q3 2013. This marks an improvement on 0.5 points drop recorded in Q2 2013. Meanwhile, Unemployment rate dropped to 11.3% in Q3 2014 - a decline of 1.7 points on Q3 2013. The rate of unemployment decline slowed down in Q3 2014 compared to Q2 2014 when the rate dropped 2.1 points.

The above suggests that a significant share of the changes in unemployment is not related to jobs creation (something I will cover in a separate post).

For quarterly changes, consider seasonally-adjusted data. Seasonally-adjusted participation rate stood at 60.0 in Q3 2014, up marginally from 59.9 in Q2 2014 and marginally below 60.1 in Q1 2014. The historical average for the series is 60.7, which means we are still well below the average participation rate. Seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate posted 0.4 points drop to 11.1% in Q3 2014 compared to Q2 2014. Q2 2014 quarterly decline was 0.5 points, which suggests a slowdown in the rate of unemployment improvements in Q3 2014.

Rate of changes unemployment are shown in the chart below.

The key conclusion from the above data is that Ireland's participation rate remains below historical average and despite a slight improvement in Q3 2014 compared to Q2 2014, labour force participation rate remains lower than for the same period in 2013.

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