Number of women in paid work hits all-time high – Central Bank


Record high female employment was not initiated by Covid work-from-home rules, the central bank has found.

Instead, the strong economic recovery and longer-term trends have led to more women – and young people – entering and staying in the labor market, according to a central bank study.

Women over 35 and young people under 25 pushed employment in the Irish economy to an all-time high of 2.5 million people late last year.

Female employment reached a record high in 2021 at around 60 percent of the labor force.

“Our research suggests that, to date, there is no unequivocal evidence that changes during the pandemic, such as the shift to hybrid or full remote work, were the dominant factors supporting the employment recovery in recent quarters,” the said Central Bank Research Economist Tara McIndoe-Kalder.

“Instead, the broadening of participation was mainly related to under-25s and women over 35, who tend to be highly sensitive to the state of the business cycle.

“Women over 35 have seen increases in their labor force participation for underlying structural reasons that pre-pandemic and are expected to continue for some time to come.”

The proportion of working-age people working here has risen to a peak of 74 per cent, just above the EU average but still below countries like the Netherlands and Estonia.

Ms McIndoe-Calder said bringing Ireland up to par with Europe’s top performers “may not happen automatically” and “probably will require some further action”.

The biggest shift during the pandemic has come from women over 35 moving from being unemployed to contact-intensive service sectors.

These jobs accounted for nearly 56.7 per cent of all new hires in 2021, with the proportion of women over 35 in such jobs rising from 37.1 to 51.2 during Covid.

The proportion of highly qualified women and those under 25 entering the labor market has also increased in 2020 and 2021.

However, fewer parents with young children switched jobs during the pandemic.

“This suggests a mixed picture for pandemic-related labor flexibility in supporting labor force expansion in 2021,” the central bank said.

“Distance education may have supported labor force participation, while the presence of young children may have presented additional care responsibilities for parents that hindered labor force participation.”

The proportion of women over 35 in part-time employment increased from 64 percent before the pandemic to 66 percent in 2021, but the proportion of all groups in temporary work fell.

The study found that domestic labor, rather than importing labor from abroad, has led to the recovery of jobs in Ireland.

However, the central bank’s report said record numbers in the workforce could dampen wages, although this is likely to fade as the pool of available labor shrinks.

Ireland’s job vacancy rate reached 1.6 per cent at the end of March, a point higher than the same period in 2021 but still well below the EU average of around 3 per cent. Number of women in paid work hits all-time high – Central Bank

Fry Electronics Team

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