Foreign workers bear the brunt of job cuts

FOREIGNERS have been more adversely affected by the downturn than any other social group, according to a study by National Irish Bank.

Net emigration has resumed, composed almost entirely of non-national workers, who have also experienced a fall in employment of 30% over the past two years.

The economy officially moved out of recession during the first quarter of 2010 on the back of a strong growth in exports.

GDP is set to grow by 0.75% in 2010 and by 3.5% in 2011.

However, these positives do not translate into social positives. The labour market remains very weak. Most employment in Ireland relates to domestic consumption, not exports, and domestic demand remains very weak. Employment of Irish nationals has fallen by only 9%.

NIB chief economist, Ronnie O’Toole, said: “Employment of non-national workers has fallen by a massive 30% over the space of two years, compared with a fall of 9% for Irish workers. This is not, as is commonly believed, because non-nationals were concentrated in industries which have contracted the most, such as construction.

“Rather, in every economic sector the loss of jobs by non-nationals has been much more severe than for the Irish. For example, the employment of Irish nationals in the hospitality sector has actually risen 5% over the past two years, while that of non-nationals fell by 23%.”

The economy contracted by 7.6% in 2009, giving a cumulative fall of 10.9% from 2008-09. The losing streak of eight consecutive quarters of contraction ended in Q1 2010, with the economy growing by 2.7%, thanks to a strong export performance.

Net migration was around 46,000 people of working age over the past year, with net exits of non-national workers of 60,000. In contrast, the number of Irish workers continued to grow, due mainly to the natural increase of around 30,000 because of Ireland’s young population. There is no evidence yet of net emigration among Irish nationals.


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