UK nationals account for largest number of PPSN allocations in 2017

CSO figures detail shifting composition of labour force

UK nationals accounted for the largest number of PPSN (Personal Public Service Number) allocations to foreign nationals in the State last year.

Figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show UK nationals, a category that includes people from the North, were allocated 15,346 PPSNs here in 2017 and that the UK has accounted for the highest number of allocations by country since 2009.

Romanian nationals accounted for the next largest allocation last year with 12,081, followed by Brazil (10,361), Poland (6,817), Spain (6,339), Italy (5,998), India (5,782) and Croatia (4,908).

The figures, which illustrate the growing diversity of the Irish labour force, show that a total of 447,416 foreign nationals who were assigned PPSNs during the period 2002-2017 recorded some employment during 2017.


The largest numbers were employed in the accommodation and food service activities (77,032).

The CSO said that of the 63,992 foreign nationals aged 15 years and over who were assigned PPSNs in 2012, 16,066 (25.1 per cent) had employment activity at any time during 2017.

Activity rates

Employment and social welfare activity rates for foreign nationals in 2017 ranged from a low of 32.8 per cent for 2012 allocations, where 21,017 of the 63,992 allocations had employment or interacted with the social welfare system in the year, to 61 per cent in 2016 and 2017.

Separate CSO figures show net inward migration jumped to 34,000 in the 12 months to April this year, the highest level since 2008, and is playing an increasingly significant role in the expansion of Ireland’s labour force.

The CSO's most recent Labour Force Survey showed that while employment growth among Irish nationals was running at a 2.2 per cent year on year, employment among foreign nationals was growing at a rate of 7.7 per cent .

Foreign nationals now comprise a record 16.2 per cent of total employment in the Republic.

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy is Economics Correspondent of The Irish Times