The percentage of “prime-age” workers employed in the Republic is now higher than at any time, reflecting the current strength of the labor market.
The share of workers aged 25 to 54 classified as employed – a measure known as the employment-to-population ratio (Epop) – rose to almost 80% in the first quarter of 2019.
That figure was higher than the 78.7 percent recorded in the first quarter of 2007, when employment here was boosted by a sharp increase in construction.
The Epop measure differs from the traditional labor market participation rate, which takes into account a larger cross-section of potential workers.
However, as many young people choose to continue their education, it is increasingly used to assess the recovery in employment since the crash.
Workers aged 25 to 54 are generally referred to as “middle-aged” workers, which means that most are old enough to have completed formal education but are too young to retire.
The chairman of the Irish Tax Advisory Board, Séamus Coffey, recently told the Oireachtas Committee on Budgetary Watch that the economy has recovered from a deep crisis and is now operating near full capacity. “This is particularly visible in the labor market with an unemployment rate falling to around 4.5 percent,” he said, noting that the percentage of the employed population in working age groups was now higher. at its pre-crisis peak.
The Republic’s overall unemployment rate, which climbed to nearly 16% at the height of the financial crisis, fell to 4.4% last month, about half the euro area average.
With global growth distorted by the actions of multinationals, jobs have long been seen as the best prism for seeing the strength of the recovery here.
The latest Central Bureau of Statistics Labor Force Survey, the most accurate indicator of employment trends, suggested that the participation rate among potential workers here edged up to 62% in the first quarter of 2019. .
However, this rate remains below the rate recorded at the height of the boom and below the European Union average.
As the economy is now officially close to full employment, the share of the population in the labor force is expected to increase thanks to greater female participation and later retirement.
The rapid recovery in employment since 2013 has also coincided with an increase in more precarious forms of work linked to the so-called odd-job economy.