Category Archives: PLS3

20/2/19: Broader Measures of Irish Unemployment 4Q 2018


The latest Labour Force Survey for 4Q 2018 for Ireland, published by CSO, shows some decent employment increases over 2018, and a welcomed, but shallow, rise in the labour force participation rates. Alongside with a decrease (over FY 2018) in the headline unemployment rate, these are welcome changes, consistent with overall economic growth picture for the state.

One, much less-reported in the media, set of metrics for labour markets performance is the set of broader unemployment measures provided by the CSO. These are known as Potential Labour Supply stats (PLS1-PLS4). The measures also show improvements over 2018, just in line with overall employment growth. However, these measures clearly indicate that after 11 years running, the 2008-2014 crises remain still evident in the labour force statistics for Ireland.

Here is a chart of all four PLS measures, compared to their pre-2008 averages:

Note: Increase in PLS2-PLS4 series at 3Q 2017 is down to change in assessment methodology under the LFS replacing QNHS, with data pre-3Q 2017 adjusted to reflect that change by the CSO.

As a reminder, the above data series are defined as:

  • PLS1 adds discouraged workers. These are individuals who are out of work but who have become disillusioned with job search. 
  • PLS2 includes all individuals in Potential Additional Labour Force (PALF). The PALF is made up of two groups: persons seeking work but not immediately available and persons available to work but not seeking, of which discouraged workers make up the largest number. 
  • PLS3 includes all those in the previous two categories (PLS1 and PLS2) along with persons outside the labour force but not in education or training. 
  • PLS4 is the broadest measure of unemployment or potential labour supply and is calculated by adding part-time underemployed workers to PLS3. Part-time underemployed workers are individuals currently working part time who are willing and available to work additional hours. The broadest measure of unemployment (PLS4) stood at 13.7 per cent in 4Q 2016. At 4Q 2017 it was 18.7 per cent and by 4Q 2018 it was down to 17.5 per cent.

20/2/19: Broader Measures of Irish Unemployment 4Q 2018


The latest Labour Force Survey for 4Q 2018 for Ireland, published by CSO, shows some decent employment increases over 2018, and a welcomed, but shallow, rise in the labour force participation rates. Alongside with a decrease (over FY 2018) in the headline unemployment rate, these are welcome changes, consistent with overall economic growth picture for the state.

One, much less-reported in the media, set of metrics for labour markets performance is the set of broader unemployment measures provided by the CSO. These are known as Potential Labour Supply stats (PLS1-PLS4). The measures also show improvements over 2018, just in line with overall employment growth. However, these measures clearly indicate that after 11 years running, the 2008-2014 crises remain still evident in the labour force statistics for Ireland.

Here is a chart of all four PLS measures, compared to their pre-2008 averages:

Note: Increase in PLS2-PLS4 series at 3Q 2017 is down to change in assessment methodology under the LFS replacing QNHS, with data pre-3Q 2017 adjusted to reflect that change by the CSO.

As a reminder, the above data series are defined as:

  • PLS1 adds discouraged workers. These are individuals who are out of work but who have become disillusioned with job search. 
  • PLS2 includes all individuals in Potential Additional Labour Force (PALF). The PALF is made up of two groups: persons seeking work but not immediately available and persons available to work but not seeking, of which discouraged workers make up the largest number. 
  • PLS3 includes all those in the previous two categories (PLS1 and PLS2) along with persons outside the labour force but not in education or training. 
  • PLS4 is the broadest measure of unemployment or potential labour supply and is calculated by adding part-time underemployed workers to PLS3. Part-time underemployed workers are individuals currently working part time who are willing and available to work additional hours. The broadest measure of unemployment (PLS4) stood at 13.7 per cent in 4Q 2016. At 4Q 2017 it was 18.7 per cent and by 4Q 2018 it was down to 17.5 per cent.

30/7/18: Broader Unemployment vs Official Unemployment: Ireland



In the first post (see above) looking at the broader measures of unemployment and dependency ratios, recall that CSO publishes several extended series for broader unemployment rates. 

The official unemployment rate at 1Q 2018 stood at 6.4 percent (well within the pre-crisis historical range of the average of 5.31 percent and the 99% confidence interval of (3.70%, 6.92%). In more simple terms, statistically, the current official unemployment rate is indistinguishable from the average rate prevailing in 1Q 1998 - 4Q 2007. Which is the good thing, implying that in official terms, Irelands economy has recovered from the crisis at last. In fact, the recovery in official terms has been attained in 4Q 2017.

However, the CSO also reports the PLS2 measure of broader unemployment. The Above analysis was based on reported PLS1 data, covering unemployed plus discouraged workers, as a percentage of the labour force. Adding to the PLS1 those in potential additional labour force (basically able bodied adults who are neither employed nor unemployed, nor discouraged, and are not in studies or formal training), the CSO gets PLS2 measure of broader unemployment. In 1Q 208 this number read 10.2% of the Labour Force, plus Potential Additional Labour Force, which was statistically higher than the pre-Crisis average of 6.1% (falling into the 99% confidence interval range of (4.39%, 7.81%). In other words, the economy has not yet recovered from the Crisis based on PLS2 broader unemployment measure.

Extending PLS2 to cover all unemployed, plus those who want a job and not seeking for reasons other than being in education or training, in 1Q 2018 the broader PLS3 unemployment measure stood at 14.2 percent, unchanged on 4Q 2017. As with PLS2, the 1Q 2018 reading for PLS3 falls well beyond the range of the pre-crisis historical average of 8.36% (with 99% confidence interval of (6.52%, 10.20%).

As noted above, by two broader unemployment measures: PS2 and PLS3, Irish economy has not recovered from the crisis, even if we take a relatively benign recovery measure of the economy reaching the pre-crisis 1Q 1998 - 4Q 2007 average rate of unemployment. 



Worse, taking 4 year moving average and a 4 year rolling standard deviation in PS3 rates, 1Q 2018 PLS3 rate of 14.2% is closer to the upper margin of the 99% confidence interval for 1Q 2018 based on prior 4 years of data (the CI is given by (9.81%, 15.63%) range). Which means that 1Q 2018 data shows no statistically significant break-out from the PLS3 broader unemployment dynamics of the past 4 years. The same holds for the 5 years MA and rolling STDEV. 

So while the official unemployment readings are showing a very robust recovery, broader measures of unemployment continue to trend in line with the economy still carrying the hefty legacy of the recent crises.