The third annual NERI labour market conference was held on 1 May in Riddel Hall, Queen's University Belfast. The event was held in conjunction with the Queen's Management School and featured presentations on a wide range of areas. Details on the topics covered, including links to the slides, are available below. All at the NERI would like to thank everyone who attended the conference, particularly those who gave a presentation. The conference will be held south of the border next year and we will keep you up to date with the arrangements.
Slides from a number of presentations are exluded at the presenters' request.
The current focus on low pay and precarious work practices has set the scene for the work of the recently formed Low Pay Commission in the Republic of Ireland. One aspect of their work will be to look at the number of individuals trapped in low pay, many of whom are dependent on the social protection system to underpin their ability to make ends meet.
Ireland set up a Low Pay Commission earlier this year with a mandate to (amongst other things) recommend to government on an annual basis on appropriate changes to the rate set for the National Minimum Wage (NMW).
‘These things we hold to be self-evident …. ‘ is a line taken from the 1776 USA Declaration of Independence. Given the emerging debate - such as it is – in the Republic of Ireland on matters to do with taxation, social spending and related areas it would seem that the following ten canonical statements are universally believed in, rarely contested and frequently asserted:
Yesterday's seminar given by the Director of the NERI, Tom Healy, focused on setting the parameters for a clear, long-term vision for the Irish economy to emerge. The seminar is based on a recent working paper that argues this vision must be based on concrete goals that can be observed, measured and contrasted—as opposed to pious aspirations. The paper is not intended as a blueprint or model that is to be rolled out, but as a contribution to a debate on our economic future.
Over the course of the presentation, Dr Healy reviewed the key economic and social challenges facing the island of Ireland in the coming three decades and suggests an overarching framework to better understand:
In the last year the Central Bank has urged trade unions to raise their wage demands. What? Yes it did happen. But not here. The German Central Bank, the Bundesbank, urged German trade unions to up their wage demands – at least above the rate of inflation (the message was relayed through Jens Ulbrich the Bundesbank chief economist at the Bank). Somehow, it is unlikely that Dame Street (or Merrion Street) will be issuing similar advice in the Republic of Ireland. As matters stand, real wages have been in free fall since 2009 – compounding a fall in levels of consumer demand. Last week’s news of a modest recovery in average weekly earnings is welcome (Chart 1).
The NERI—in conjunction with Centre for Irish Business & Economic Performance, Queen’s University Management School— will host the third annual NERI Labour Market Conference on 1 May 2015. The event will be held in Riddel Hall, Queen's University Belfast. The conference will run from 10.00am-4pm and will include approximately 15 research papers dealing with a range of key features of labour market policy and practice.
As the economic recovery takes root, there are welcome improvements in the levels of employment and continued decreases in unemployment. Looking across 2015, the latest NERI projections (December 2014) suggest employment growth of 2.1% this year with unemployment falling to 10.4%.
Two statistical releases from the Central Statistics Office in recent weeks did not attract as much public attention as deserved. One report concerns trends and distribution of income (EU Survey of Income and Living Conditions) while the other concerns the level and distribution of wealth in Ireland. The latter was released under the title of the ‘Household Finance and Consumption Survey’ and was part of a European wide survey sponsored by the European Central Bank. The EUSILC survey showed an alarming increase in poverty (‘material deprivation’ is the measure used) including deprivation among children, older people and single parents. The other survey showed – for the first time – a robust statistical survey of wealth in the Republic of Ireland and how it is distributed across different households.