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Busy week ahead for Irish economy data

Friday, August 22 11:55:41

It's a busy week ahead on the Irish economic front, with a number of key figures due for release, including residential property prices, retail sales and private-sector credit for July.

However, the main focus of attention is likely to be the Quarterly National Household Survey for the second quarter to see if the healthy pick-up in employment in 2013 was maintained in the first half of 2014.

Merrion Stockbrokers's analyst, Alan McQuaid, thinks it was and consequently expects the labour market data to be strong.

There was an annual increase in employment of 2.3pc or 42,700 in the opening quarter of 2014, bringing total employment to 1,888,200. This compared with an annual rise in employment of 3.3pc (61,000) in the previous quarter and an increase of 1.1pc in the year to the first quarter of 2013.

The annual increase in the numbers at work was driven by a 46,400 rise in full-time employment, while there was a fall of 3,700 in those employed on a part-time basis. On a seasonally-adjusted basis, employment increased by 1,700 (+0.1pc) in the quarter. Unemployment in the first quarter decreased by 33,900 (-11.6pc) in the year, pushing the total number out of work down to 258,100. This was the seventh quarter running where those without a job declined on an annual basis. The seasonally adjusted jobless rate decreased from 12.2pc to 12.0pc over the quarter while the numbers unemployed fell by 4,500 on an adjusted basis. The unadjusted jobless rate dropped from 13.7pc to 12.0pc over the year. Employment rose in nine of the fourteen economic sectors on an annual basis and fell in the other five. The greatest rates of increase were recorded in the Agriculture, forestry and fishing (+14.9pc or 14,400) and the Professional, scientific and technical activities (+11.4pc or 11,800) sectors. The largest rates of decrease were posted in the Wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles (-2.2pc or -5,900) and the Financial, insurance and real estate activities (-1.9pc or -1,900) sectors.

"While emigration has played a role in keeping the jobless rate down, it is now clear that there is a lot more to the fall in unemployment over the past two years or so than just that. In the second quarter we are looking for an annual increase in employment of 50,000," Mr McQuaid said.

Looking at the prospects for house prices, he said he now sees an average rise in Irish house prices of around 12pc, with Dublin posting the biggest increase of over 20pc. "For July, we are looking for an annual increase in residential property prices of 14.0pc."

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