From top: Commuters in Dublin; Dan Boyle
The most recent unemployment statistics saw a return to the type of figures that existed pre 2008. That in itself is very welcome. I don’t hold with the view that these statistics are somehow contrived, or are laced with political spin.
The Central Statistics Office is a credible, neutral organisation. Its presentation of data has to conform with Eurostat rules. The trend is that more people are engaged in positions of employment.
Despite that, what we measure in relation to work, is often deficient.
We measure the number of work positions but not specifically the number of man hours worked. There is little precise information on the amount of wages accurately being paid. There is no measurement being taken on the degree of job security that exists.
Significant groups of people are not include in these statistics – students, those engaged in employment schemes, and many thousands who are in receipt of pre-retirement dole.
Against that, the way employment data is collected is very wide, but it isn’t particularly deep. The statistics cover the age range 15 years to 74. This includes some meant to be in full time education, and others who otherwise should be well ensconced in retirement.
42,000 people, year on year, have acquired employment that previously was beyond them. That is welcome. When we look at secondary sources of information, the implication created by this movement, isn’t necessarily that rosy.
When we look at income taxes receipts, a different picture starts to emerge. Year on year these have increased by €82 million. This gives an average tax liability of under €2000 for each new entrant to the workforce. This abstracts to average wages that would be somewhat under the average industrial wage.
If we had access to the wage increases given to those already in the workforce, this would further reduce the figure we could attach to what average wage new workers are receiving.
Further proof is the disconnect that is occurring, since the start of this year, between income tax receipts and universal social charge receipts. USC receipts are increasing at a far slower pace than those of income tax.
Because of the income threshold that applies before payment of USC is required, we can surmise that many of the new jobs being created, must be paying wages in or around this threshold.
One CSO statistic we should question is the assertion that wages in the public sector are considerability higher than those in the private sector. The CSO admits that no accepted international comparator for this statistic exists.
There are many factors that distort direct comparison. There are very few part time jobs in the public sector. Invariably these are mostly found in the private sector.
What we can work out is that many of the new jobs created are part time, low paying, and are lacking in security. If we are honest with ourselves, we should admit that this glass isn’t even yet half full.