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People of working age far less likely to have a job the further they are from Dublin

The proportion of people of working age in the regions further away from Dublin that have jobs has fallen by far more than on the eastern side of the country since the financial crisis.

It’s not just about lower jobs numbers. Regional Ireland is not only dealing with greater job losses and a slower recovery but has also seen more people leaving the labour force.

Social Justice Ireland's latest Employment Monitor highlights an anaemic labour market participation rate, despite improving jobs numbers. The labour market participation rate is the proportion of the working-age population that is in employment or actively seeking employment. A low participation rate suggests a substantial number of ‘discouraged workers’, many of whom will have been out of a job for a long time and have lost hope of finding employment.

Ireland’s participation rate has fallen from 67.4 per cent to 62.2 per cent in the last decade. But it has fallen by far more in some regions, particularly the Midlands, West and South-West, than in some others. The UK has a participation rate of nearly 79 per cent. This shows just how far the Irish labour market has yet to go. Yes, unemployment numbers are down. But a huge part of that is due to people leaving the labour force altogether.

The publication also highlights the fact that despite an improved regional spread of employment growth, some regions are still lagging far behind. The Midland region has the highest unemployment rate, has lost the most jobs during the recession, and has suffered the biggest fall in participation rates, compared with the rest of the country. Meanwhile Dublin and the counties around it now have more jobs than they did when the recession hit.

The failure to invest adequately in Ireland’s rural broadband network has long hampered technological progress in rural Ireland, and we have repeatedly argued that this is the main impediment to entrepreneurship, innovation and sustainable employment creation throughout the regions.