Updated: 13/11/17 : 12:55:36
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Sligo has lowest employment growth nationally - Census

Sligo has suffered the lowest employment growth of any county in the past five years and is now one of just six counties where the labour force is shrinking.

Total employment grew by just 2.2% between 2011 and 2016, significantly below the 11% national growth and the lowest of any county in the State.

This is according to an in-depth analysis of the labour market in the county, carried out by the Western Development Commission (WDC), based on data from the Census of Population 2016.

The data also shows that:

·      Sligo had a total population of 65,535 in 2016 – 7.6% higher than a decade earlier

·      Sligo has a higher than average share of population unable to work due to disability or
       illness and a higher share of students/pupils.

·      The share of self-employed in Sligo is higher than the national average, 9% compared with 8.3%.

Unemployment and the labour force

The WDC analysis shows that the county has a labour force of 30,252 or 57.9% of the county’s adult population. This is notably lower than the national average of 61.9%.

The labour force includes both the number of people at work and those looking for work. The Sligo figure is down 2.6% on the previous Census, compared with 3.2% growth nationally.

Sligo is one of just six counties in the State with a shrinking labour force. Other counties in the Western Region where the labour force declined include Roscommon, Mayo, Leitrim and Donegal. Tipperary was the sixth county. 

Just under half (49.8%) of Sligo’s adults are ‘at work’ — below the 53.4% national average. But the share of unemployed is close to the national average.

These figures count the resident population of the county. But Sligo has a positive balance when it comes to commuting with more people travelling into the county to work (3,730) than travel out of it (3,203). Those who come into the county for work are not counted here but those who commute out of Sligo are.

Sligo has a somewhat higher share of self-emplyed – 9% compared with the national avearge of 8.3%.

People who are retired form the largest group amoung those outside the labour force and at 17.7% of the adult population; their share is considerably highter than the average of 14.5%, reflecting the county’s older age profile.

Sligo also has a higher share of people unable to work due to disability or illnesss as well as a higher share of students and pupils, influenced by the location of IT Sligo and St Angela’s College in the county.

Paul Pauline White, Policy Analyst with the WDC, says,  “It’s clear that Sligo has performed poorly in terms of recent jobs recovery. When compared with neighbouring counties, Sligo’s lower growth or decline in large employment sectors such as manufacturing, retail, hospitality and construction has weakened its position. Agriculture was the only sector where Sligo outperformed the national average. Out-migration of young people has reduced the county’s labour force and available skills. Supporting these young people to return to set up their own business and showing potential employers that there’s an appetite to return to Sligo if jobs are available could help stimulate growth.”

Top three sectors

The top three sectors for employment in Sligo are: Health & Social Work, Wholesale & Retail and Industry, which account for 40.7% of all jobs.

Health is considerably more importatnt to the county than elsewhere and Sligo has the highest share working in this sector in the State. This sector – which includes residential care and child care as well as hospitals — employs 15.5% of Sligo’s workers, compared to a national average of 11.1%.

Employment in Wholesale and Retail, the second largest employer at 12.7%, performed poorly, declining by 5.9 % since 2011, in contrast to a national average growth of 1.7% in this sector. It accounts for a lower share of jobs than elsewhere.

At 12.5%, Industry accounts for a higher share of jobs than in neighbouring Leitrim and Donegal, but its growth of 0.3% in the past five years falls significantly below the national average growth of 9.4%.

Industry includes manufacturing, energy generation, waste, water – with manufacturing the largest element.

Other sectors

Agriculture performed strongly with jobs in this sector growing by 8.5% compared to a national decline of 2.6%. This was in part due to an additional 162 jobs created in the animal and mixed farming sector.

Employment in Education was up by 4.7%, while jobs in the Accommodation and Food Service sector grew by 7.8%, compared with a 12.9% national growth.

Employment in Public Administration was down by 4.5%, a better performance than the national drop of 6.3%.

The WDC analysis also shows:

·      Sligo saw a decrease of 0.3% in jobs in the Construction sector, compared to a strong
       national growth of 16.6%

·      Sligo’s highest employment growth was in the Administrative & Other Services sector at
       9.2% with arts and entertainment as well as hairdressing and beauty the main drivers

·      A 14.1% drop in numbers employed in the financial services, compaired with a 1.3%
      decline nationally, is being linked to the closure of banks and other financial institutions.

Pauline White, Policy Analyst with the WDC, adds, “Examining the needs and issues of the Western Region through in-depth analysis is a key part of the work of the Western Development Commission (WDC). We hope the analysis for each individual county can help local authorities, community groups and businesses in each county plan for the future. It is important that we more fully understand why some of the sectoral changes in employment are taking place in County Sligo, and its wider region, and the impact that these are having on the county’s economy and its residents.”