One thing we can learn from the QNHS is the estimated number of foreign nationals (or in the unfortunate vernacular non-nationals) in the labour force. The following graph tracks the number of foreign nationals that are employed and unemployed for six years from the third quarter of 2004. Click graphs to enlarge.
The number of non-Irish nationals in the labour force rose by about 125% from 160k to 365k between 2004 and the end of 2007. Since then the number has fallen back to 317k and continues to trend downward. The numbers unemployed remained below 30k until the middle of 2008 but there are now an estimated 55k non-Irish nationals unemployed.
This 25k increase in unemployment contrasts to the reduction in employment among non-nationals of about 80k from its peak. Approximately two-thirds of non-nationals who have lost their job have left the country. This means that the deterioration of labour market conditions in Ireland is actually worse than that indicated by the unemployment data.
The trend of non-nationals as a proportion of the labour force follows a similar pattern to totals.
At the peak over 16% or one out of every six workers in the Irish Labour Force was a non-Irish national. This is now down to one in seven and the current downward trend will bring it back towards the one in 12 seen at the start of the series in 2004.
If we look at the origin of these workers we see a clear pattern emerging. The number of workers from the UK and EU15 countries in Ireland has been fairly constant over the past six years. There has been some increase in non-EU workers coming to Ireland but the most substantial increase has been in workers from the "EU Accession States" in Eastern Europe.
There has been an average of about 55k workers from the UK and 33k workers from the rest of the EU in Ireland over the past few years. These numbers have been relatively stable. The main increase has been among EU15-EU27 countries. At its peak there was in increase of over 400% in the numbers of workers from these countries with an increase from 35k to 180k. The downward trend over the last two years has seen this drop back to 152k. The increase and drop in workers from non-EU countries is, as would be expected, not as pronounced and there was actually an increase in the last quarter.
If we move from labour force totals to unemployment rates we see that unemployment among non-Irish nationals has been consistently higher than the unemployment rate among Irish nationals.
For most of the graph this difference hovered between 1.5 and 2.5 percentage points but there is now a 5.3 percentage point difference in the unemployment rates between the two groups. Looking at the unemployment rates by origin of work we see
The lowest unemployment rate is among workers from the EU15 at only 7.8%. Unemployment among workers from the EU Accession States is highest with 19.5% of workers from these countries now unemployed.