20/6/18: Irish Labour Force Participation Rate: Persistency of a Problem

With the latest CSO data reporting on labour force participation figures for 1Q 2018, time to update the chart showing secular decline in the labour force participation rate in the country since the start of 2010:

As the chart above shows, despite low and falling unemployment, Irish labour force participation rate remains at the lows established at the start of 2010 and is not trending up. In fact, seasonal volatility in the PR has increased on recent years (since 1Q 2016), while the overall average levels remain basically unchanged, sitting at the lowest levels since the start of the millennium.

Taking ratio of those in the labour force to those outside the labour force as a proximate dependency indicator (this omits dependency of children aged less than 15), over 2000-2004 period, average ratio stood at 1.685 (there were, on average, 1.685 people seeking work or employed for each 1 person not in the labour force). This rose to 1.895 average over 2005-2009 period, before collapsing to 1.630 average since the start of 2010. Current ratio (1Q 2018) sits at 1.600, below the present period average.

While demographics and education account for much of this, overall the conclusions that can drawn from this data are quite striking: per each person staying out of the labour force for various reasons, Ireland has fewer people working or searching for jobs today than in any comparable (in economic fundamentals terms) period.