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Dublin: 13°C Friday 20 May 2022

Nearly everyone in Ireland will have a job again by 2020*

*Assuming ESRI’s latest predictions are right.

IRELAND WILL HIT ”full employment” and its jobless rate will crash to 5% before the end of the decade, economists have said.

The Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) has delivered the most optimistic major unemployment forecast yet – predicting the jobless queues will drop to well below 10% of the workforce next year.

In its latest outlook, ESRI economists said the unemployment rate would fall to 9.6% in 2015, down from its last prediction, and keep on dropping assuming the country didn’t suffer any more economic shocks.

The forecasts are more positive than those the Central Bank released late last week when the state body said unemployment would fall to 10.3% next year.

ESRI chief economist John FitzGerald said researchers were also predicting a return to “full employment”, or an unemployment rate of about 5%, before 2020.

The unemployment rate was last below 10% in January 2009 and it hasn’t been under 5% since early 2008.

Unemployment Ireland's unemployment rate since 2004 Source: CSO

Full employment is considered to be the largest number of jobs the economy can support at any time after allowing for workers who are between jobs but still an active part of the labour force.

Big earners are getting the spoils of wage increases

But despite the upbeat jobs outlook, ESRI’s forecasts showed little relief for workers whose pay packets have been stagnant or shrinking since the crash.

While it predicted an extra 49,000 people would have jobs before the end of 2015, it expected only a 1.3% lift in earnings for each of the next two years.

The most recent Central Statistics Office figures revealed the average pay packet was still shrinking and remained below 2007 levels, although the results were patchy for different industries.

FitzGerald said there had been conflicting information coming out on average wages and he suspected it was mostly top earners who were seeing rises at the moment.

ESRI Conferences The ESRI's John FitzGerald Source: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

If you look at the employment figures by level of education, there’s been a much bigger increase in graduate employment than employment of people who haven’t finished their leaving certificate,” he said.

Ireland has the second-highest percentage of low-paying jobs in the developed world behind only the US, Morgan Stanley analysts recently uncovered.

READ: Say no to austerity, it’s time to build jobs with Ireland’s ‘spectacular’ growth

READ: School-leavers and graduates make up larger chunk of emigrants than last year

About the author:

Peter Bodkin  / Editor, Fora

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