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Rita McInerney, chairperson of Doonmbeg Drama festival.

Positive momentum on jobs

ECONOMIC data has been less grim than usual lately, and when the CSO revealed on Tuesday that 58,000 more people were at work in the third quarter of 2013 compared to the third quarter of last year, there was more cause for optimism.

The CSO figures also showed a decline of over 41,000 in the number unemployed, a decrease of 12.8% in the overall figure.

In Clare the third quarter of the year matched the national picture, with 9,849 people signing on in July but the figure was 8,943 in September, a decrease of 906.

Rita McInerney of Ennis Chamber said she was pleased things are going in the right direction, and said that the increase in the numbers at work is the most significant number, giving that factors other than an economic improvement can make a hole in the numbers on the live register.

“I think that looking at employment growth is a much more realistic example or indication of how the economy is progressing rather than looking at unemployment levels. It shows a very positive move in the right direction, I think it was nearly double what it was in the previous quarter. The unemployment levels have fallen also, but that can be an indication of people emigrating or returning to college or whatever, but I would find the indication of the growth in employment levels very positive,” she commented.

Ms McInerney said she felt there are still problems around facilitating part time work, and that if they were addressed, things could improve further still. ” What was interesting from the report as well was that a lot of the employment has been full time. While that is positive it also raises the question, and some other business organisations have raised it too, are there ways that we could accelerate it further?

“My sense is that a lot of businesses are waiting until they can afford someone full time before they take someone on because it is so difficult to take someone on part time in this country. The social welfare benefits and supports are provided in such a way that don’t allow that flexibility in terms of employment, which we have always been critical of and have always campaigned for the Government to have a serious look at. If someone is to retain some of their social welfare entitlements and return to part time employment it can only be up to 20 hours within three days.”

While she says that some sectors and some parts of the country are feeling it more than others, she does feel things are going in the right direction. “The mood is definitely better, it does vary between sectors and different types of business.”

Clare Fine Gael TD Joe Carey said the growth in employment vindicates policies undertaken by his party, while he also had a swipe at the previous administration. “The announcement that almost 5,000 jobs a month are being created is hugely encouraging and shows that this Government’s plan to get Ireland working again is bearing fruit. The creation of 58,000 in the last year is a welcome change to the situation under the last Government where 80,000 jobs per year were being lost in the private sector.”

With the exit from the bailout due within weeks, he said things are improving. “The unemployment rate has dropped from 13.6% to 12.8% between July and September of this year. While we still have a long way to go, these figures show that we are moving firmly in the right direction. Ireland has experienced a fall in unemployment for the last 16 months in a row and is about to regain its economic independence by exiting the bailout. With a budget in place for next year which will further incentivise job creation, I firmly believe that we are heading in the right direction.”

Local election candidate Cillian Griffey for Fine Gael felt the creation of full time positions is particularly good news. He said that it was the best jobs data seen for a long time. “These are the most positive jobs figures we’ve had in six years. We still have a lot of progress to make, if we are to recoup all of the jobs lost. However, the Government is on track to exceed its target of creating 100,000 new jobs by the end of 2015.”

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