Socio-economic dimensions of the worsening employment picture

Sean Ó Riain03/03/2009

Sean O Riain: There is a helpful post over at by Brendan Walsh outlining the worsening employment picture as reflected in the latest Quarterly National Household Survey.

One of the comments by Liam Delaney also provided this link to an excellent Bell and Blanchflower paper on unemployment in the UK and the need for jobs focussed stimulus, among other policy measures.

There are some elements of the worsening jobs picture that Brendan's post doesn't bring out that are worth mentioning (most of this is also in my comment on Brendan's post over at

The sectoral spread of the job losses is pretty wide - construction and production industries losing the most but also retail trade and hotels and restaurants and financial and business services. While Eastern European workers are particularly hard hit, the losses extend to Irish born workers in very large numbers.While all regions see increases in unemployment rates, there isn't any closing of regional gaps and the midlands appears to be hit worse than other regions.

Also, the losses fall particularly heavily on craft workers and production workers among men and clerical, sales and service workers among women. Given that these occupational groups are often married to each other there is a potential here for a nasty concentration of the effects of job losses - although that would obviously take some further examination. There seems to be a strong rationale here for the kind of jobs focussed stimulus that the Bell and Blanchflower paper discusses and for further education, training and related schemes.

The job losses are also particularly bad among younger male and female workers, those most likely to be carrying negative equity in their homes and the heaviest mortgage payments. All kinds of potential problems there - and a strong prima facie argument for planning to prevent foreclosures. These will be problems for the people concerned but also potentially for the banks - their difficulties at the moment appear to be mainly due to loans to developers, but there is a lot of potential trouble stored up in the mortgages they gave out.

The data from the QNHS can be found here:

Posted in: Fiscal policyEconomics

Tagged with: jobsQNRS



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