Thursday, 16 December 2004

Questions (54)

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

31 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of jobs that have been lost in each of the past five years; the number of replacement jobs provided in the same period; the cause or causes of the job losses, if identifiable; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33773/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment)

Employment in firms assisted by the enterprise support agencies is collated by means of an annual employment survey undertaken by Forfás. Information in respect of 2004 is not yet available as the survey is underway. For the years 1999 to 2003 the data shows that 160,086 full time jobs were created in agency supported companies while 140,086 jobs were lost in the same period.

Employment changes in agency-supported companies.

Job Gains (Full-time)

Job Losses (Full-time)

2003

22,743

29,743

2002

27,393

35,017

2001

29,847

33,420

2000

44,737

20,851

1999

35,876

21,055

In the past few years, conditions in the global economy have been difficult, and Irish firms have had to win business against a backdrop of difficult external demand conditions, pricing pressures, and an increasingly competitive international environment. These have affected employment trends in companies assisted by the enterprise development agencies. However, employment in these companies is still one third higher than it was a decade ago. This is a strong performance in the context of global economic circumstances.

There are now indications that economic prospects are improving and our propensity to capitalise on trends in global growth is likely to again stimulate business expansion and real employment growth. The ESRI has indicated that industrial employment will increase by 0.6% this year and by 1% in 2005, supported by significant growth in GNP. In light of the intense global competitive pressures on manufacturing, these forecasts show that our economy maintains considerable strengths.

More generally, the labour market is robust and unemployment is continuing to fall. The latest quarterly national household survey figures released by the Central Statistics Office show that the total at work increased by 57,200 year on year in the third quarter of 2004. This represents an increase of 3.1% in employment, which is the highest level of annual growth recorded since the first quarter of 2001. The data further shows that employment growth was spread across all regions.

As the following table indicates, the number in employment across the economy ihas ncreased by almost 165,000 over the five-year period from 2000 to 2004.

Total Employment March-May of Each Year (,000).

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

1671.4

1721.9

1763.9

1793.4

1836.2

(Source: CSO Quarterly National Household Survey.)

These figures show a strong, positive trend and with an unemployment rate of 4.4% we continue to outperform almost all of our EU counterparts. Nevertheless we cannot allow ourselves to become complacent. I have given the enterprise development agencies a firm mandate to develop and implement policies to sustain and promote employment growth and to expand their activities in sectors where competitive employment opportunities will arise in the future.
Question No. 32 answered with QuestionNo. 10.