The last couple of years have been a disaster with respect to employment.  If it wasn’t for emigration, the unemployment rate would be undoubtedly be above 15%. In November 2007, as we coasted into the crisis, the unemployment rate was 4.8% with 169,700 people on the Live Register.  In November 2010 the unemployment rate was 13.5% with 438,800 people on the Live Register.  That’s a 258% increase in those signing on the Live Register.  Yesterday a number of news sources were reporting data from the Small Firms Assocition (SFA), KavanaghFennell accountants, Vision Net, and the IDA.

The SFA noted that 1,075 jobs were lost every week in 2010, over 60,000 redundancies being reported to DETI.  38% of those jobs were lost from the services sector, with 20% lost from manufacturing.  KavanaghFennell reported that more that 4 companies a day went out of business last year, with 1,525 Irish businesses declared insolvent, a rise of 8% on 2009.  Of these, 30% (472) were construction-related companies, 279 were service-related companies and 177 were in retail.  Vision Net reported that liquidations declined by 8pc, but remained over 2,000 (57% of which were declared insolvent).

On the plus side, Companies’ Registration Office reported that 14,015 limited companies were incorporated in Ireland during 2010, an increase of 4.7% on 2009.  In addition, IDA Ireland companies created 10,897 new jobs last year, with 126 FDIs secured.  Unfortunately, 13,066 companies were dissolved in 2010 and there were 9,545 job losses in IDA-supported companies.  In effect, it was a year of employment stabilization with only a year-on-year increase of 11,800 on the Live Register, and the number of companies operating in the country remaining roughly the same.

The absolute priority for 2011 and the incoming government has to be job creation, either through attracting in new FDI, helping indigenous companies expand, or enabling and encouraging new start-ups.  For the past couple of years job creation has been paid little more than lip-service, with attention focused on the bank bailouts and public finances.  We now need to focus on the real economy, getting credit flowing to business and putting in place schemes and programmes to get people back to work.  This needs to be the year of job creation.

Rob Kitchin