Up to 350,000 non-Irish here - 25pc above CSO figures
THERE are probably up to 350,000 foreigners living in Ireland, a senior statistician said yesterday — 25pc more than show up in surveys by the Central Statistics Office.
CSO director Bill Keating was presenting labour force figures for July-September, which showed 83,500 more people were employed than the same time last year.
About half the new jobs went to immigrants, with an estimated 48,000 finding work over the year. Mr Keating said the quarterly survey of 40,000 households may understate the number of foreigners in the country.
“While the overall response to the survey is about 90pc, we feel it is significantly less for immigrants.
“We must wait for the 2006 census, but our best estimate is that the number of non-nationals may be 300,000-350,000, rather the 280,000 recorded in the survey,” he said.
Despite the huge number of immigrants, the labour force is expanding at the same rate, as employment grows rapidly in building, healthcare and the public service sectors.
The labour force grew by almost 92,000, pushing the unemployment rate up slightly from 4.4pc to 4.5pc.
Building and healthcare accounted for more than half the new jobs, with the workforce in both increasing by about a tenth.
A quarter of the 19,000 extra jobs in health were part-time, and many seem to be in areas like care assistance.
Despite slowdown numbers increased by now account predictions of a in construction,
employed over 10pc and for more than 13pc of total employment. Analysts said that, while house-building may have peaked, non-residential construction is strong, led by government investment.
Excluding health, public sector employment also grew strongly, with public administration jobs up 4.8pc and education by 3.3pc in the twelve months.
Wholesale and retail firms added an extra 3.9pc to their workforce, with the number of immigrants employed in retail increasing by almost a third over the past year.
However, analysts noted that the pace of job creation may be slowing. “The twelve-month increase of 4.2pc was down from 4.6pc in the second quarter and the slowest expansion in more than a year,” said Davy Stockbrokers economist Rossa White. “Private services employment was up only 0.2pc in the quarter.”
“Unemployment did tick up,” said Dermot O’Leary of Goodbody Stockbrokers. “Most of this was due to non-Irish nationals, whose unemployment rate rose from 4.6pc to 5.6pc, while the rate for Irish-born people was steady at 2.8pc.
“But even excluding construction and health, other employment increased by an impressive 3.4pc.”