Economy produces the best job numbers in 5 years

EMPLOYMENT is at its highest level in five years with almost 28,000 more people in a job at the end of September than in the same period last year.

And the vast bulk of the new positions are full-time, with a bounce-back in battered sectors such as construction and retail now helping to drive the growth.

Some 1.93 million people now have a job – the highest level since the autumn of 2009 – with the unemployment rate dipping to 10.9pc last month.

Economists hailed the figures from the Central Statistics Office as further evidence of the broadening recovery, while Finance Minister Michael Noonan said it reflected a turnaround in key sectors of the economy.

“As in 2013, a mixture of a bounce-back in hard-hit sectors such as tourism and construction, and buoyant jobs growth in export-facing professional and scientific sectors has driven employment growth,” said Davy analyst Conall MacCoille.

The CSO said employment had increased by 27,700 in the 12 months to the end of September, or 1.5pc, fuelled by a rise of 26,100 in full-time positions.

That was a softer annual increase than in previous quarters, such as a 1.7pc rise in the second quarter and an increase of 3.2pc in the year to the end of September 2013.

But, on a seasonally adjusted basis, 10,400 new jobs were created in the third quarter compared to the previous quarter – up 0.5pc.

This compares with a 0.2pc rise in the second quarter and flat figures at the start of the year.

Long term unemployment is also falling, with the rate dropping from 7.6pc to 6.4pc over the year to the end of September. Unemployment fell by 37,400 over the year, with the unemployment rate between July and September at 11.1pc. It fell to 10.9pc in October.

Employment increased in ten of the 14 economic sectors, with construction and professional and scientific and technical activities seeing the largest increases.

But the number of employees in the public sector dropped by 6,000 in the year to the end of September, compared to an increase of 25,000 in the 12 months to the end of September last year.

Business lobby group Ibec said the CSO data showed that the labour market remains very solid.

“The slowdown in overall employment growth in the first half of 2014 reflected a switch from part-time to full-time jobs growth,” Ibec economist Fergal O’Brien said.

“These figures are a clear indicator of the domestic economy recovering as the strong employment growth is almost all full-time,” Mr O’Brien added.

And with employment increasing in the construction sector by 7,000 over the year, industry chiefs hailed it as a sign of “growing vitality” in the sector.

“Former construction workers still account for the largest portion of unemployed people in this country,” Construction Industry Federation director general Tom Parlon said.

“Every time a construction job is created it is taking people off the dole, with the minimum of fuss.”

Alan McQuaid of Merrion Stockbrokers predicted a net increase in employment of 32,000 this year, while Austin Hughes of KBC Bank Ireland said the jobs growth suggested economic growth of about 3pc.

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