IDA Ireland failing to live up to reputation for big job creation

IDA Ireland might have a reputation for making large-scale job announcements, but official figures show its track record over the past decade is decidedly mixed.

Figures for the IDA’s performance in the period 2002-2011 reveal a net loss of 8,100 jobs in IDA-supported firms around the country.

They also reveal that Dublin, Cork, and Galway are the only places to have gained any long-term benefit in terms of job creation from foreign direct investment in Ireland.

The three cities already account for around 80% of new IDA-backed projects announced this year.

However, two thirds of all counties in the Republic have experienced a net loss of jobs at IDA-backed firms since 2002.

Overall, the state agency for overseas investment secured projects creating almost 102,000 jobs over the past decade. However, IDA-supported foreign firms also made almost 110,000 people redundant during the same period.

Not surprisingly, Dublin, as a popular location for many international firms, has had a net gain of 3,162 jobs during the period, followed by Cork (2,468), and Galway (788).

Limerick is the county to have suffered the worst unemployment at IDA-supported companies, losing 4,036 jobs in the past decade, largely due to the closure of the Dell factory with the loss of 1,900 jobs

Other counties to experience a major net loss in jobs included Kerry (1,603), Louth (1,391), and Wicklow (1,047).

Only five other counties besides Dublin, Cork, and Galway have recorded a net gain in jobs at such companies in the past 10 years. However, Wexford, Longford, Leitrim, Kilkenny, and Clare collectively have a net gain of just over 800 jobs.

The results raise concerns about the IDA’s ability to achieve an even distribution of jobs on a geographical basis. The agency has stated that it wants to be able to ensure that 50% of investors choose locations outside Dublin and Cork by 2014.

The figures show that just 105 jobs were created by foreign firms in Laois over the past decade. The border counties of Monaghan (188) and Cavan (261) also experienced very little investment from IDA-back companies.

Almost 62% of new jobs in IDA-based firms were created in Dublin and Cork in 2010. However, that figure fell to 33% last year.

About 146,000 people are employed in roughly 1,000 IDA-backed firms in the Republic. The agency enjoyed one of its most successful years in 2011, when it attracted investment which created 11,488 jobs — the highest annual rate of job creation since 2006.

Last year, IDA-backed firms also recorded the lowest level of job losses in a decade, with just fewer than 6,700 positions being made redundant.

The IDA’s worst year was at the height of the downturn in 2009, when 17,630 people lost their jobs at IDA-supported companies, while fewer than 5,000 positions were created.

So far in 2012, the IDA has already announced details of investment by 66 new and expanding foreign companies based in Ireland which will create at least 7,500 jobs.

They included PayPal (1,000 jobs), BSkyB (800), Apple (500), and Mylan (also 500).

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