DESPITE the very high level of inflation seen over the last year, the economic outlook is still quite strong as 2023 begins.
While lay-offs in the technology sector have raised concerns, Joe Robbins of Careerwise Recruitment feels those are not reflective of the overall health of the local and national jobs market.
“We’re still effectively at full employment. We’re still finding it very hard to find people at all levels. I think we’re very lucky that we have a very diverse economy.
“The technology companies are down right now and they’re letting a lot of people go, but if these people can migrate into the medical device/pharma-type companies then there are loads of opportunities still. It’s very buoyant right now.”
While inflation is very high, in many cases workers have seen their incomes rise significantly. “Because it’s such a competitive economy the wages have increased. It’s a messy environment as well, people might have two or three opportunites to change to other companies, especially in the medical device/engineering space, but the current company won’t want them to go, so they have to pay more.”
He feels that inflation is likely to fall in 2023, while the economy will remain very buoyant.
“I think it’s actually going to become stronger. China has now opened up again and the supply chains have already improved, so that’s going to bring down the prices of commodities and everything else.
“The weather has been very good and oil prices have come down, while the Government has helped with the electricity subsidy as well.
“I’d be very confident about the future, a lot of medical device/pharma companies are hiring strongly and there are new companies coming in.
“The technology companies had to let people go, they had too many people on the books and there is room for those people to move into other areas.”
Margaret O’Brien of Ennis Chamber said that retailers in the town had quite a good Christmas.
“I rang around about Christmas and in terms of retail, it was difficult in the run-up to Christmas because you had really bad ice two weeks out and literally people were coming into town during the time there was a thaw and that was only about two hours every day.
“The retailers were very worried at that time, but afterwards they were very happy with it. There was a good atmosphere and people were very positive.
“They said it was quiet enough straight after Christmas, but they were very happy with how Christmas went, they said it was really evident people wanted to shop local.”
At the moment she says that there is a mood of caution.
“I think everybody is really cautious. The fact that there is a chance that energy cost supports will be extended, that will help.
“I think in Ennis there are an awful lot of questions. People are wondering what will happen in the town, when is the URDF-funded project on O’Connell Street really kicking off, will that be extended further?”
However she said that members are a bit more hopeful than she had expected them to be, as 2023 begins.
Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.