Slump in PPS numbers of foreign nationals

Only one in five foreign nationals of working age who were assigned PPS numbers in 2008 had any employment here five years later.

Figures show just 20.4% of those aged 15 and over who received a PPS number as the economic collapse accelerated recorded any economic activity in 2013.

A further 17.8% of the same group recorded social welfare activity, and while others are presumed to have been studying full-time, married to an earning spouse, or registered self-employed and not entitled to welfare payments, a large group are thought to have left the country.

Demand among foreign nationals for PPS numbers fell dramatically during the recession, from 127,048 after 2008 to fewer than half that, 62,984, the following year.

Since 2012, demand has been on the increase again, however, with latest figures from the Central Statistics Office showing 75,812 were allocated to those aged 15 and over in 2013 and Department of Social Protection figures revealing a further increase to all ages in 2014.

Employment opportunities seem to be on the rise too, as 38.1% of those allocated a PPS number in 2013 had employment during that year and the percentage rose to 52.5% among new arrivals from EU states, excluding the union’s newest members, Bulgaria, Romania, and Croatia.

The highest number of PPS numbers for non-Irish in 2013 went to people from the UK, who accounted for 13,167 of the total, followed by Poland with 9,235.

Up to 2008, Poles had by far the highest number, 42,454, more than twice the second highest, the UK, which had 19,733, but Polish applications declined dramatically after that.

The next biggest country groups assigned of PPS numbers in 2013 were Romania, Brazil, Spain, Italy, France, the USA, India, and Lithuania. In 2008, Slovakia and Hungary also made the top 10, in place of Italy and India.

The most notable increase in recent years has been in the allocation of numbers to people from Venezuela. Just 65 PPS numbers went to Venezuelans in 2008 but that grew steadily to 408 in 2012 and jumped to 2,218 in 2013.

Hotels and catering were the sectors that absorbed the greatest number of foreign nationals working here in 2013, employing 58,511, or almost one in five.

Retail and wholesale employed one in six, while one in eight were carrying out administration and support service activities, one in 11 were in manufacturing, and one in 15 were employed in the health services.

Just under 12,000, or one in 27, had work in jobs that were classed as professional, scientific, or technical, and fewer again, about one in 30, had work in the financial sector.

While the dramatic fall in the number of foreign nationals of all ages being allocated PPS numbers was the main trend in recent years, the drop in the number of children getting PPS numbers was even more notable.

Allocations to all ages almost halved from 154,065 in 2008 to 85,170 in 2013, but the change in the 0-14 age group was a fall of almost two thirds, from 27,017 in 2008 to 9,358 in 2013, suggesting fewer families came to live here in the last few years.

Allocations to older applicants increased slightly from 2,352 among the over-65s in 2008 to 2,689 in 2013. The ratio of males to females remained virtually unchanged, with slightly more males every year, varying from a low of 50.5% to a high of 52.6%.


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