Tuesday, January 21 11:34:20
Ireland was the only country in the EU to experience a decrease in inflation between 2008 and 2012 but prices remain high by EU standards, according to the report Measuring Ireland's Progress 2012, published by the CSO today.
Ireland was the fifth most expensive EU state in 2012, after Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Luxembourg with prices 15pc above the EU average. However, this represents a considerable improvement on 2008 when Irish prices were the second highest in the EU, at 30pc above the EU average. GDP rose slightly by 0.2pc in 2012. The public balance deficit was the third highest of any EU member state at just over 8pc of GDP, while government debt increased to 117.4pc of GDP, having been at only 44.2pc of GDP in 2008. The number of new houses and apartments, after peaking at almost 90,000 in 2006, collapsed to 8,488 in 2012, below the level in 1970. Ireland's employment rate was the fifth lowest in the EU, and its unemployment rate was the fifth highest in the EU. The productivity of the Irish workforce remained above the EU average.
Ireland has the highest fertility rate and the second lowest divorce rate in the EU. Its population is increasing at the third highest rate in the EU and it has the highest proportion of young people and the second lowest proportion of old people in the EU. Average class size at primary level in Ireland is the second highest in the EU, though the early school-leaver rate is better than the EU average. The proportion of the population aged 25-34 in Ireland that has completed third-level education is the fourth highest in the EU.
The employment rate (for those aged 15-64) in Ireland rose from 65.2pc in 2003 to 69.1pc in 2007, but fell to 58.8pc by 2012. However the employment rate increased slightly in 2013 to 60.2pc. The male employment rate was stable over the 2003 to 2008 period at about 76pc but fell sharply over the next three years to 62.4pc in 2012 before increasing slightly to 64.6pc in 2013. The female employment rate increased from 55.4pc in 2003 to 60.6pc in 2007 before falling to 55.2pc in 2012 and increasing slightly to 55.9pc in 2013. In 2012, Ireland's employment rate was the fifth lowest in the EU, and its unemployment rate was the fifth highest rate in the EU.
The at risk of poverty rate in Ireland was 15pc in 2011 which was below the EU rate of 17pc. In 2011 6.9pc of the population were in consistent poverty. This was an increase on the level recorded in 2010, when 6.3pc of the population was living in consistent poverty. Ireland's net official development assistance increased from 0.53pc of GNI in 2007 to 0.59pc in 2008, before declining to 0.5pc in 2011, which is short of the UN 2007 target of 0.7pc.