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Were 58,000 new jobs created in Ireland in 2013?

The government says the Action Plan for Jobs is working and more than 50,000 jobs were created in 2013. This week we’ve looked at where this figure came from and how accurate it is.


In this series we aim to test the veracity of statements made by politicians and those in the public eye. The goal is purely unbiased, testing only the statements that become accepted as fact, not those that espouse them.

FactCheck is used whenever a statement is made that needs to be tested so as to better the national conversation. If, for example, a political leader said the world was flat, it wouldn’t do the country any good to blithely accept it as true.

Nor does it better our understanding to accept statements designed to obfuscate, to mislead or designed purely to gain political advantage.

That is not to say we will only seek to disprove statements. Every column is be looked at purely on fact.

The statements are awarded a score from 1-10 based on their merit, with 1 being outright false and 10 being 100 per cent verifiable fact.

Of course, some statements go beyond the first line and, where this is the case, we will endeavour to bring you the context of statements.

The Statement

58,000 new jobs were created in Ireland in 2013.

The Facts

Earlier this month, Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton said that the Action Plan for Jobs was working well and had created 58,000 jobs last year. Fine Gael also used the fact that “58,000 new jobs were created” as proof that the Five Point Plan is being followed, when we looked at it last week.


(Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland)

This figure was based on CSO data from the third Quarterly National Household Survey for 2013 which showed a total increase in employment of 58,000. This included an increase of 53,300 in full-time employment and 4,500 in part-time employment.

Recent announcements have also shown that there was a net increase of 5,442 people employed by firms supported by Enterprise Ireland and there were 7,071 additional people in employment in IDA Ireland client companies last year. We asked them both, just to make sure, that these were real jobs that had all been filled, rather than just announcements of new jobs and they assured us that they were.

Even when added together, these figures do not even come close to the 58,000 that has been thrown around, so how reliable is it as an indicator of job creation?


(Image: Shutterstock)

The fact is, there is no one out there counting exactly how many new jobs are being created each year, though this is something that would be possible if someone wanted to do it, the CSO told us.

However, Rory O’Farrell, a researcher with the think-tank NERI, said the figure of 58,000 is about as accurate as we can get and, in fact, it could skew results if the over number of jobs created was counted.

According to O’Farrell, this would result in higher numbers than the actual yearly increase in employment as workers in some sectors may finish and start multiple new contracts in one year and these would technically count as new jobs even though they were all for the same person.

So, while we can’t exactly say that 58,000 new jobs were created in 2013, 58,000 extra people were working, compared to the previous year.

Beyond the Facts

Nat O’Connor, Director of another think-tank, TASC, told that in order to really assess the situation with the jobs market, it’s not the overall figures we need to be looking at. The more important question here, according to O’Connor, is what kind of jobs are being created?

Data from the CSO shows a significant shift in employment across the different sectors between 2007 and 2013:


(Image: TASC) Click here if you have trouble viewing this image

This shows the huge loss of jobs in construction which is linked to the bust and also considerable growth in the health sector, linked to our growing ageing population. “While jobs in this sector are likely to continue as a growth area, the question is then is whether the new health jobs are good jobs or not,” O’Connor said.

Both O’Connor and Rory O’Farrell of NERI pointed out that there are two particular types of jobs that are dominating the labour market – high paying ‘good’ jobs, like managers and senior professionals, and low paying ‘poor’ jobs like bar workers.


(Image: TASC) Click here if you have trouble viewing this image

“The middle paying jobs are being hollowed out,” O’Farrell said. “During the boom, that was hidden, or masked, because the construction sector was made up of middle paying jobs. Since the recession, this mask has been removed and you can see more clearly this polarisation of the labour market”.

Middle paying jobs are those which involve simple instructions that can either be carried out by a machine or computer, or could be outsourced abroad, which is part of the problem with job creation in this area.

In these jobs, and in the lower paid jobs, both researchers said training is key, to allow workers to improve their skills and move up in their jobs or into different areas so that they don’t end up joining the dole queue.

“Good quality jobs are being created but the government is pursuing an export orientated strategy and those types of companies normally employ more highly educated, highly skilled people than the domestic economy,” O’Farrell said. “The point we’d make is we need both.”

Job creation vs job destruction

O’Connor said there is a need for serious discussion about job destruction alongside job creation.

“New supermarkets in towns are only ever reported to ‘create’ X jobs, which is usually low wage direct employment. Little mention is ever given to the fact that local shops may close as a result, with the loss not only of better paid jobs (eg craft butchers) but also the social fabric of town streets,” he explained.

You can’t stop progress” and maybe people all over Ireland are entitled to choose between the same wide variety of biscuits as the people in the big urban centres. But if we choose (with our individual purchasing decisions) to prefer shopping centres, online shopping, and whatever else, we can’t be surprised that our economy no longer provides traditional avenues for employment.

That may not be a bad thing in the long run, but the burning question is; what will the jobs of the future look like?

Getting the jobs

Creating the jobs is one thing, but actually getting them is another. Data from across Europe shows just how difficult it is for an unemployed person in Ireland to find a job, compared to other countries like the UK and Germany:


(Image: NERI) Click here if you have trouble viewing this image

O’Farrell said the biggest problem in the jobs market is basically that there is not enough of them.

There’s a lack of demand in the economy so it doesn’t matter how you incentive people to look for jobs. It’s not that people are too lazy to take up the jobs that are there, it’s obvious that there are plenty of people looking for work.

He said it was also a common misconception that younger unemployed people went straight onto the dole after finishing school or college because they are not bothered looking for jobs. “For those young people, who had their dole cut, the vast majority have worked at some point – more than 86 per cent of young people on the dole have worked in the past.”


(Image: Niall Carson/PA)

The researcher also describe schemes like JobBridge as a “quick fix” and a “cheap way to take a few thousand people off the live register”.

He suggested that the government would need to fund a serious investment programme focused on training people for jobs in the right kinds of areas in the economy but this would cost money and would likely mean asking our lenders to finance it. Ahem.


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Read: What ever happened to Fine Gael’s Five Point Plan?>

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