Record level of employment in 2019 is testament to robust labour market & strong economy – Donohoe

18th February, 2020

  • The level of employment increased by 65,000 in 2019 (+2.9 per cent) compared to 2018
  • Employment in the fourth quarter of 2019 increased by 79,900 (+3.5 per cent) relative to the same quarter in 2018
  • The average level of employment (2,322,500) in 2019 is an all-time annual high 
  • Unemployment rate of 4.7 per cent in the fourth quarter in line with 2000-2007 average
  • Ireland’s labour force expanded by 61,600 (+2.6 per cent) over the year to Q4 2019

Labour Force Survey (LFS) data published today (Tuesday) by the CSO confirm that 2019 was another very good year for Ireland’s labour market, with total employment increasing by 79,900 in the fourth quarter of 2019 compared to the same period in 2018. There were 2,350,600 people employed in Ireland in the fourth quarter last year after adjusting for seasonal factors, with a seasonally adjusted employment rate of 4.7 per cent, in line with the average seen over the period 2000-2007.

Welcoming the figures, the Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure & Reform, Paschal Donohoe T.D., said: “Despite a challenging year in 2019 due to Brexit uncertainty and a slowdown in international markets, I am very pleased to see today’s figures which show the continued strength in our labour market. Total employment in 2019 rose by 65,000, a 2.9 per cent increase on 2018, a growth rate seen for three straight years. The level of employment grew by 1,250 per week last year. The number of people at work reached another all-time high, with 2,350,600 people in employment in the fourth quarter last year.

“Employment growth remains broad-based, with annual gains recorded in 13 out of 14 economic sectors and all 8 regions in Ireland. I am particularly pleased to see a continued decline in the unemployment rate which now stands at a level last seen before the economic crash. Separate CSO figures published last week showed total goods exports of 152 billion in 2019, the highest year on record, with exports from our food and beverage sector up 6.5 per cent over the year. Overall these data provide further proof that recent economic policies have paid dividends for households and firms throughout the country.

“Ireland has faced and continues to face a highly uncertain macroeconomic situation with clear risks to our future economic growth, not least due to ongoing uncertainty associated with the future trading relationship with the UK. However we will face these challenges from a position of strength.”


Note to Editors:

  • On a seasonally adjusted basis, employment increased by 1.3 per cent (+30,500) between the third and fourth quarters in 2019, with a seasonally adjusted level of 2,350,600 in the fourth quarter.
  • The level of employment in 2019 (2,322,500) is calculated as the average unadjusted level across the four quarters.
  • The largest sectoral employment increase in the fourth quarter (in annual terms) was in the ICT sector (+10.7 per cent or +12,300), with wholesale/retail the only sector down (-0.5 per cent or -1,700).
  • The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 4.7 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2019, while the unadjusted unemployment rate was 4.5 per cent.
  • Long-term unemployment fell by 11,500 (-23 per cent) in the fourth quarter on an annual basis, and now accounts for 1.6 per cent of the labour force, down from 2.1 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2018.