Category Archives: Full-time employment

30/7/18: Ireland’s employment data: Official Stats vs Full Time equivalents



Based on the most current data for Irish employment and working hours, I have calculated the difference between the two key time series, the Full Time Equivalent employment (FTE employment) and the officially reported employment.

Let’s take some definitions on board first:
  • Defining those in official employment: I used CSO data for “Persons aged 15 years and over in Employment (Thousand) by Quarter, Sex, and Usual Hours Worked”
  • Defining FTE employment, is used data on hours per week worked, using 40-44 hours category as the defining point for FTE. 
  • A note of caution, FTE is an estimated figures, based on mid-points of working time intervals reported by the CSO.


Based on these definitions, in 1Q 2018, there were 2.2205 million people in official employment in Ireland. However, 51,800 of these worked on average between 1 and 9 hours per week, and another 147,300 worked between 10 and 19 hours per week. And so on. Adjusting for working hours differences, my estimated Full Time Equivalent number of employees in Ireland in 1Q 2018 stood at 1.94223 million, or 278,271 FTE employees less than the official employment statistics suggested. The gap between the FTE employment and officially reported number of employees was 12.53%.

I defined the above gap as “Employment Hours Gap” (EHG): a percentage difference between those in FTE and those in official employment. A negative gap close to zero implies FTE employment is close to the official employment, which indicates that only a small proportion of those in employment are working less then full-time hours.

All the data is plotted in the chart below


Per chart above, the following facts are worth noting:
  1. In terms of official employment numbers, Ireland’s economy has not fully recovered from the crisis. The pre-Crisis peak official employment stands at 2.2522 million in 3Q 2007. The bad news is: as of 1Q 2018, the same measure stands at 2.2205 million.
  2. In terms of FTE employment, the peak pre-Crisis levels of employment stood at 1.9261 million in 3Q 2017. This was regained in 3Q 2017 at 1.9444 million. So the good news is that the current recovery is at least complete now, after a full decade of misery, when it comes to estimated FTE employment.


The improved quality of employment as reflected in better mix of FT and  >FT employees in the total numbers employed, generated in the recent recovery, is highlighted in the chart as well, as the gap has been drawing closer to zero.

One more thing worth noting here. The above data is based on inclusion of the category of employees with “Variable Hours”, which per CSO include “persons for whom no usual hours of work are available”. In other words, zero-hours contract workers who effective do not work at all are included with those workers who might work one week 45 hours and another week 25 hours. So I adjust my FTE estimated employment to exclude from both official and FTE employment figures workers on Variable Hours. The resulting change in the EHG gap is striking:



Per above, while the recovery has been associated with a modestly improving working hours conditions, it is now clear that excluding workers on Variable Hours’ put the current level of EHG still below the conditions prevailing in the early 2000s. More interestingly, we can see a persistent trend in terms of rising / worsening gap from the end of the 1990s through to the end of the pre-Crisis boom at the end of 2007, and into the collapse of the Irish economy through 2012. The post-Crisis improvement in Employment Hours Gap has been driven by the outflows of workers from the Variable Hours’ to other categories, but when one controls for this category of workers (a category that is effectively ‘catch-all-others’ for CSO) the improvements become less dramatic.

Overall, FTE estimates indicate some problems remaining in the Irish economy when it comes to the dependency ratios. Many analysts gauge dependency ratios as a function of total population ratio to those in official employment. The problem, of course, is that the economic capacity of someone working close to 40 hours per week or above is not the same as that of someone working less than 20 hours per week.

Note: More on dependency ratios next. 

25/2/15: QNHS Q4 2014: Employment, Part-Time, Full-Time, & Underemployment




In the first three posts covering the QNHS results for Q4 2014, I discussed

  • Labour Force Participation Rate (poor news showing decline in the already historically low participation) and Unemployment Rate (goods news with unemployment - absent seasonal adjustment falling to 9.9% and the rate of decline in unemployment on quarterly basis accelerating): http://trueeconomics.blogspot.ie/2015/02/25215-qnhs-q4-2014-labour-force.html
  • The size of labour force (which is worrying and static at and around crisis trough) and broader measures of unemployment (at high enough levels to arrant concern, but declining rapidly, although inclusive of the state training programmes participants and emigration figures the declines are shallower than across the officially reported numbers), here: http://trueeconomics.blogspot.ie/2015/02/25215-qnhs-q4-2014-broader-measures-of.html
  • Employment growth overall and by sectors was covered here: http://trueeconomics.blogspot.ie/2015/02/25215-qnhs-q4-2014-employment-growth-by.html. Employment grew by 29,100 over 12 months of 2014 and the rate of growth has accelerated between Q3 and Q4. Private non-agricultural employment is rising faster than total employment and the rate of employment growth here also accelerated in Q4 2014. High value-added sectors employment is also rising, at a rate faster than the overall employment is increasing.


Now, let's consider labour force breakdown by economic status.

Total number of working age adults residing in Ireland (age 15 and over) rose to 3,601,900 in Q4 2014 from 3,595,600 in Q3 2014, up 0.13% y/y (+4,500).

Of these, numbers of those at work rose to 1,877,900 in Q4 2013, up 1.56% y/y or 28,800. This is a key number as it reflects total creation of jobs in the economy. The rate of increases in the number of those at work was slower in Q4 2014 than in Q3 2014 (+1.7%). Compared to Q1 2011 (when the current Government took office), there number of those at work in Q4 2014 was up 4.27% or 76,900.

Number of those unemployed fell 13.05% y/y in Q4 2014 to 263,900 - a rate of y/y decline that is faster than 9.76 drop recorded in Q3 2014. Which is very good news. Overall, there were 39,600 fewer unemployed in Q4 2014 than in Q4 2013. Which is also a good number.

Now, between Q1 2011 and Q4 2014, 76,900 more adults went to work, but unemployment fell by 101,800, which shows that 24,900 adults have moved out of unemployment but did not go to work.

Number of students in Q4 2014 stood at 415,100 which is down 0.1% y/y (-400) and is up 3% (+12,100) on Q1 2011.

Number of those engaged on home duties stood at 476,300 in Q4 2014, up 0.55% y/y (+2,600). This increase stands contrasted by a 1.63% drop in Q3 2014 y/y. Since Q1 2011, the number of those engaged in home duties fell 10.17% (-53,900).

417,800 individuals of age 15 and over were officially in retirement in Q4 2014, up 2.93% (+11,900) y/y and up 19.95% (+69,500) on Q1 2011 - a massive increase clearly driven in part by early retirement schemes deployed in the public sector.

The mysterious category of 'Other' - those neither working, nor studying, nor unemployed, nor working on home duties, nor retired - was at 150,800, up 0.8% (+1,200) y/y and down 100 (-0.07%) on Q1 2011.

Recall that there were 1,877,900 individuals at work in Ireland in Q4 2014, a number that is 28,800 higher than in Q4 2013 and 76,900 higher than in Q1 2011. Of these, 1,474,300 individuals were in full time employment - an increase of 38,300 (+2.67%) y/y and a rise of 91,300 (+6.6%) since Q1 2011. Which shows clearly that new employment growth has been more significant in full-time category and there have been some transitions from part-time to full-time jobs. This is excellent news.

Meanwhile, number of those in part-time employment dropped to 383,600, down 2.34% (-9,200) y/y but up 3,100 (+0.81%) on Q1 2011.

Taking a closer look at part-time employment: In Q4 2014, number of part-time workers who reported themselves not underemployed was 276,000, up 5.59% y/y or 14,600. Compared to Q1 2011, there were 11,000 (+4.15%) more phis too is good news. And it confirms the suspicion that jobs quality has improved in recent quarters. Further indication of same is the number of those who are employed part time but do report themselves to be underemployed. This number stood at 107,600 in Q4 2014, down 18.17% y/y (-23,900) and down 7,900 (-6.84%) on Q1 2011.

Two charts to illustrate the aforementioned trends:



Overall conclusion: the quality of employment is improving, with more increases in full time employment and in part time not underemployed jobs. Rapid rate of growth in those in retirement (+65,900 on Q1 2011) relative to those at work (+76,900 over the same period) is worrying, however.