29/8/2013: Broader Unemployment & Underemployment in Ireland: Q2 2013

On foot of the latest data from the QNHS (broad trends analysis here), let’s take a look at the broader measures of unemployment, as reported by the CSO (with the last measure: PLS4+STP being compiled by myself based on CSO data from the Live Register and QNHS).

Here are the core definitions, used:

And the numbers are:

  • PLS1 – unemployed persons plus discouraged workers – rose from 14.6% in Q1 2013 to 14.8% in Q2 2013, but declined 1.3 percentage points on Q2 2012. Relative to peak (16.2% in Q3 2011), the indicator is now down 1.4 percentage points, which is a pretty poor performance, when you think of it: 1.4 ppt down in 7 quarters).
  • PLS2 is at 16.2% in Q2 2013, up on 16% in Q4 2012 and Q1 2012. Year on year, indicator is down 1.0 percentage points and it is down 1.1 percentage points on peak attained in Q3 2011. Again, poor performance relative to peak.
  • PLS3 is at 18.2%, up on 18.0% in Q1 2013 and down 0.7 ppt on Q2 2012. Relative to peak the indicator is down 1.0 percentage points with the peak at Q3 2011.
  • PLS4 is at 24.7%, which is down on 24.9% in Q1 2013 and is also down 1.1 ppt y/y. Q2 2012 was the peak reading for indicator, so PLS4 is down now 1.1 ppt on peak too – decline delivered over 4 quarters.
  • Finally, adding State Training Programmes participants to PLS4, we have PLS4+STP indicator at 27.8%, down on 28.9% in Q1 2013 and down only 0.5 ppt on Q2 2012. Indicator peak was attained in Q3 2012, so the indicator is now down 1.1 ppt on peak.

Summary of y/y and relative to peak changes recorded in Q2 2013 is here:

Lastly, gains in the labour force illustrated:

The above marks a nice increase in the labour force participation out to 2,170,700 in Q2 2013 from 2,137,500 in Q1 2013 and 2,159,100 in Q2 2012. The increase, however, comes off the low base to begin with and basically returns labour force numbers to the levels where they were back around Q3 2011.

Summary: Broader unemployment and underemployment metrics are improving y/y but not q/q. The broadest measure PLS4+STP down very marginally y/y by just 0.5 percentage points. This is hardly encouraging. On a positive side, all metrics are showing signs of stabilisation, albeit at very high levels of unemployment and underemployment. In most basic terms, with 27.8% of our broader potential workforce either unemployed, underemployed or in state training programmes, we have a real problem on our hands, still, and it is not getting better at any appreciable rate of improvement.