THE numbers signing on in Clare have dipped by more than 1,000 over the last year, with near full employment apparently here once again.
Figures this week show there were 4,646 signing on around the county last month, the lowest monthly number since November 2007. Clare’s economy has been on an often uncomfortable rollercoaster since then but the indications are it is now back in good, and indeed still improving, health.
Charlie Sexton of CS Fish, which operates in Ennis and Doonbeg, said that labour shortages are starting to become a
problem. “Every business would say now that they can’t get workers; every restaurant and hotel in the country would probably say it and we’re the same ourselves.”
He feels that but for the impact of Eastern European labour, many more businesses would be struggling to have the staff they need.
Derek Barrett runs Shannon company Peach Recruitment, which sources workers for companies across a variety of industries, and he says things have changed dramatically. “One thing that companies are learning is that they have to move quickly; organise interviews, second interviews and make an offer. A number of times recently it has maybe gone on the extra few weeks or the extra month and the candidate who may be getting an offer might have another offer on the table. That’s something that has happened a couple of times in the last quarter.”
In general, he says it is still possible to find people for vacancies, although there have been some shortages in IT. “Definitely in IT and on the software development side, they are finding it difficult to get the pipeline of people but in another couple of months, there will be graduates coming on stream. That’s an area where they probably will find it tightening up a bit.”
Brendan Reidy of Ennis Home Furniture said his own business has picked up in recent weeks, although that is more likely to be due to a new development there than any economic sea change. “We have been way busier in the last month because we opened a new showroom.”
However, he says even allowing for that, the turnaround has been very significant since the leaner times. “It’s massive. We opened in 2012 and it was the bottom of the barrel at that time; it’s been getting better every year since.”
Over the last 12 months, the numbers on the Live Register in Clare fell by almost 18%. There has been a decline of 27% on March 2017 and a massive 37% since March 2016.
While the extent of the recovery may sometimes be understated because of the continuing fears about Brexit, there is plenty of evidence that the county is in a far stronger position than it was just a few years ago.