Limerick saw the biggest growth in job vacancies of any county in Ireland in the third quarter of 2017, but it remains an ‘unemployment blackspot’ with some of the highest rates of joblessness in the nation. This apparent paradox may be explained by a rapid improvement in Limerick’s economic fortunes.
Limerick enjoyed a 43 percent increase in job vacancies in Q3 2017 compared to last year, and a 22 percent increase in Q4. This is according to figures compiled by IrishJobs.ie Jobs Index. This rise in vacancies significantly outstrips Dublin, Galway and Cork. Limerick has the fastest growing rate of job vacancies of any major urban centre. Galway saw a 16 percent rise, Dublin lagged behind on 9 percent, while Cork recorded just a 1 percent increase over the same period.
Yet Limerick still suffers from high rates of unemployment. The 2016 census reported that Limerick’s average unemployment stood at 35.7 percent in 18 electoral wards. This was the worst rate in the country and these areas were quickly dubbed ‘blackspots.’ The national unemployment rate is just 6 percent as of 1 November.
The unprecedented growth in local job vacancies may be an indication of an economic turnaround. Orla Moran, general manager at IrishJobs.ie, attributed the rise to STEM industries. This is a growing sector with a significant presence in Limerick. Senator Maria Byrne (FG) agrees with Moran.
“I very much welcome the figures released by IrishJobs.ie,” the senator said. “The recent jobs announcements from companies like Northern Trust and Regeneron are significant votes of confidence in the local economy in Limerick and the Mid-West, and a further sign of increasing employment opportunities outside of Dublin. It is great news for communities across county Limerick and the Mid-West, as every job created has a positive knock on effect for SMEs and the self-employed”
But maintaining the economic trend in Limerick won’t happen by itself. While most Limerick graduates now find work in the city and county, Limerick’s unemployment problems and need for skilled workers cannot be ignored.
“Many graduates are attracted to work abroad in countries with competitive tax rates and I firmly believe the government should continue to reduce the tax burden on working people to ensure companies can fill these vacancies.” Senator Byrne said. “The calibre of graduates and the pool of talent that come from the three higher level institutions here in Limerick are a huge factor in companies expanding their workforce and the government must do everything it can to retain these graduates.”
Limerick will continue to be the focus of attention nationally as jobs growth affects the local economy, but the unemployment blackspots may not directly benefit from new jobs in STEM industries. With the jobless rate so high in so many parts of Limerick, it may be too early to make predictions.