Employment in Irish economy surges to new high of 2.57m

Latest CSO figures indicate number of working-age adults in employment increased by 68,600 last year

The number of people at work in the State has risen to a new high of 2.57 million, with most sectors of the economy exhibiting strong employment growth over the past year, new figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show.

Despite a severe cost-of-living crisis and a slowdown in activity internationally, the Irish economy continues to perform strongly.

The CSO’s latest Labour Force Survey indicates that the number of working-age adults in employment increased by 68,600 or 2.7 per cent to 2,574,500 last year. This was more than 200,000 higher than total employment before the pandemic in 2019.

While most sectors generated additional jobs, there were some exceptions, most notably the information and communication sector, which saw a decrease of 2,200 or 1.3 per cent year-on-year, and the professional, scientific and technical activities sector, which fell by 2,600 or 1.5 per cent.


Both of these sectors have been impacted by a global downturn in tech, which has led to a spate of job losses. On Wednesday, internet giant Google announced plans to cut 240 jobs from its Irish-based workforce as part of a global retrenchment announced last month. Microsoft, Facebook, Stripe and Twitter have announced similar cuts.

The sectors with the largest percentage increases in employment were the administrative and support service activities (up 15.2 per cent or 14,500 people) and the transportation and storage sector (up 7.1 per cent or 7,500).

The latest figures gave rise to an employment rate – the number of people of working-age in the population who are employed – of 73.2 per cent, up from 73 per cent.

The strong employment numbers coincided with a steep decline in unemployment, which fell to 4.2 per cent (112,000), the lowest level since 2005, and a level that economists suggest is close to full employment in the Irish economy.

The number of men in the labour force increased by 2.1 per cent (up 29,500) to 1.4 million in the year to the fourth quarter of 2022, while the number of women was 1.9 per cent (up 23,700) higher on 1.26 million.

The overall participation rate – a key metric – stood at 64.6 per cent in the second quarter, down from 65.1 per cent a year earlier. The participation rate for men was 70.1 per cent compared to 59.3 per cent for women.

“Record employment levels were reached at the end of 2022 in Ireland, putting the labour market in a very tight position,” Goodbody economist Dermot O’Leary said. “Despite this, wage growth is being kept in check by the surge in migration flows and higher participation rates.”

Minister of State for Enterprise Neale Richmond described the figures as very encouraging, “and are a clear reminder that though we are facing challenges, our economy is strong, businesses are growing and jobs are available for those who need them”.

“With further supports announced for businesses just this week, I believe 2023 can be another very successful year for Irish businesses,” he said.

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy is Economics Correspondent of The Irish Times