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FactCheck: Exactly how good are the jobs created since 2011?

TheJournal.ie’s GE16 answers a question on a lot of minds in this election.

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AS PART OF our GE16 FactCheck series, we’re testing the truth of claims made by candidates and parties on the campaign trail.

If you hear something that doesn’t sound quite right, or see a claim that looks great, but you want to confirm it, email factcheck@thejournal.ie.

A good few readers have been in touch to ask about the quality of jobs created during the tenure of the current government. So let’s look at the facts.

CLAIM: 91% of jobs created under this government are full-time – Paschal Donohoe
Verdict: Almost entirely TRUE

What was said:

Out of the 135,000 jobs that have been created, 91% of them are full-time. Out of recent jobs that have been created, they’re created within Enterprise Ireland and IDA companies that are delivering full-time work.

That was Minister Paschal Donohoe’s claim on RTE Radio One’s Saturday with Claire Byrne last weekend.

On TV3′s Tonight With Vincent Browne on Thursday 4 February, Minister Richard Bruton made a similar claim, during an exchange with host Mick Clifford:

MC: One of the outcomes has also been that there’s a relatively high proportion of very low-paid jobs coming out of that.
RB: That’s not true. Over 90% are full-time jobs, of the jobs that have been created. 75% are in very well-paid sectors – IDA and Enterprise Ireland, financial services, construction, indeed. These are well-paid sectors.

The facts

00161384 Enda Kenny and Richard Bruton at the opening of biotech firm Amgen's new plant in Dún Laoghaire. Source: RollingNews.ie

A couple of quick notes to get out of the way.

Firstly, we addressed the issue of job activation schemes, and how they impact unemployment figures, here. For this article, we’re sticking to quality of work – whether full-time, casual, temporary, and so on.

Secondly, we dealt with the thorny issue of “job creation” in our very first FactCheck of the series.

The CSO measures job creation and job destruction using the “job churn” metric.

Unfortunately, the most recent figures available are from 2013, and they relate to jobs created/destroyed in 2012. So we can’t make a technically accurate evaluation of the net number of jobs created during the tenure of the Fine Gael/Labour government.

The figures the parties have presented are actually the increase in the number of persons employed.

Since one person can hold several jobs, and one job can be shared by several persons, and so on, the CSO does not use this statistic to measure job creation.

That being said, let’s analyse the claims about the quality of new employment under this government.

If you’re looking for the short version, it’s here:

  • Full-time growth accounts for 93.7% of all employment growth
  • Permanent growth accounts for 83.9% of all employment growth
  • Enterprise Ireland, IDA, financial services and construction growth accounts for 58.9% of all employment growth

Full-time/Part-time

fullpart Source: CSO

In the first quarter of 2011, when the outgoing government came to power, there were 1,841,800 persons employed, according to the CSO’s Quarterly National Household Survey.

In the third quarter of 2015 (the most recent figure available), that number was 1,983,000 – an increase of 141,200 or 7.6%.

From 2011 to 2015, the number of full-time workers increased by 132,300 (9.44%), and the number in part-time work increased by 8,800, or 2%.

Therefore, 93.7% of the total increase in employment since the government took office has been full-time, while 6.23% has been part-time.

Fine Gael told us that they used the first quarter of 2012 (when the Action Plan for Jobs was launched) as their starting point, and concluded that 88.16% of the growth in employment was in full-time work.

Since, on a seasonally-adjusted basis, the employment rise in that period was 135,800, this is the period alluded to by Paschal Donohoe in his claim.

We checked those numbers and they are accurate, so Donohoe’s figure of 91% slightly overstates the proportion of increased employment that was full-time in that period, but is almost entirely TRUE.

Of course, as we noted in our first FactCheck, the trend in employment since the launch of the Action Plan for Jobs is not, itself, proof that it was caused by the Action Plan for Jobs.

However, throughout the full course of the government’s tenure, 93.7% of new employment was indeed full-time.

Therefore Richard Bruton’s claim, that “over 90%” of new employment was full-time is absolutely TRUE.

Temporary/Permanent

tempgrowth Source: d mg

The CSO tracks the number of temporary and permanent employees (leaving out the self-employed, carers, and so on.)

However, these figures are only available up to the first quarter of last year.

Looking at the numbers, we see that the ratio of permanent-to-temporary workers has slightly increased during the government’s tenure, from 89.3/9.81% at the start of 2011, to 90.4/8.43%.

The remaining percentage was made up of workers whose status was not stated.

Over the last five years, permanent employment has gone up by 73,600 (5.37%), while temporary employment has dropped by 16,000 (10.62%).

The overall increase in employment from the first quarter of 2011 to the first quarter of 2015 was 87,800.

Permanent employment, therefore, accounted for 83.9% of the overall increase in employment.

casualseasonal Source: CSO

Among these temporary workers, there have been some interesting developments.

For example, while the number in temporary employment decreased overall, the number of casual and seasonal workers has increased significantly, by 37 and 79% respectively.

The numbers involved are relatively small, however, with just 8,600 seasonal workers, for example, at the last count.

‘Very well-paid sectors’

eiIDAConstructionFinancial

As to the second part of Richard Bruton’s claim:

75% are in very well-paid sectors – IDA and Enterprise Ireland, financial services, construction, indeed.

Whether or not those jobs are “very well-paid” is a question for another time.

However, we can say that these sectors account for around 59% of the overall increase in employment since Fine Gael and Labour took office – not 75%.

Enterprise Ireland and IDA job figures are taken from each agency’s annual reports, which give numbers for the end of each year.

For that reason, the corresponding CSO figures (for sectoral employment and all employment) are taken from the final quarter of 2011-2014.

For 2015, Enterprise Ireland and IDA figures are taken from this document produced by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, and CSO figures are for the third quarter, the most recent available.

So this evaluation is somewhat rough, especially given the possibility that Bruton intended to include other sectors in the list he provided.

However, the figure of 59% also probably slightly over-states the role of these specific sectors in the recovery, because there is likely to be some duplication between overall construction employment and Enterprise Ireland-supported construction employment.

In any case, here are the main points:

  • 135,300 more employment between end of 2011 and end of 2015
  • 29,531 added by Enterprise Ireland-supported companies
  • 34,833 added by IDA-supported companies
  • 4,300 fewer employed in financial services (including insurance and real estate)
  • 19,600 added in construction sector
  • Across all sectors named by Bruton, 79,664 more in employment
  • Which is 58.88% of the overall growth in employment

Bruton’s claim that these sectors account for 75% of new employment is therefore FALSE, although he may not have included every category he intended to.

To conclude:

  • Full-time growth accounts for 93.7% of all employment growth
  • Permanent growth accounts for 83.9% of all employment growth
  • Enterprise Ireland, IDA, financial services and construction growth accounts for 58.9% of all employment growth

Send your FactCheck requests to factcheck@thejournal.ie

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About the author:

Dan MacGuill

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