Under employment in the Republic of Ireland

Posted on October 28, 2014 by Daragh McCarthy

Fact of the Week: Under employment
NERI Fact of the Week: under employment in the Republic of Ireland

People classified as part-time underemployed are those who wish to work full-time, but cannot find a full-time job. Underemployment statistics touch on both the quality and quantity of work available to a sizable cohort in the labour market. In a sense, underemployment refers to a situation where an individual decides having some job—be it low skilled, poorly paid or with few guaranteed hours—is better than having no job. They take up employment, but remain actively seeking new job opportunities. Currently, there are 129,700 people classified as underemployed by the CSO.

Number of people underemployment and unemployment in Ireland ('000s), 2008—2014

There are a number of reasons to be concerned about underemployment, even in the context of high unemployment. It signals an underutilisation of skills gained through education and training. It is a drag on weekly wages and compounds a situation where people are unable to meet their basic needs through work. From a government spending perspective, it exposes the state to additional spending on income support payments through the welfare system.

Trends in involuntary part-time employment are difficult to interpret in isolation; an increase can be due to the creation of new part-time jobs, or the destruction of full-time jobs. The number of people under employed increased during the recession and, as a proportion of the total number of people in employment, Ireland has the second highest rate of underemployment in the EU 15.

Underemployment as a percentage of the total number of people at work across the EU 15, 2008-2013

While there has been a gradual improvement in the number of people in working, underemployed highlights a less widely discussed challenge faced by many in the labour market.

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