Job Turnover in Irish Manufacturing, 1972-2006
While growth in output and employment remains relatively strong in the Irish economy, there has been considerable focus recently on some high-profile job losses, particularly in the manufacturing sector. This paper places these developments within a broader context and shows that aggregate changes in the net number of jobs arise from large numbers of firms both increasing and decreasing employment simultaneously at all points in time. Even at the height of the Celtic Tiger boom when employment grew by 8 percent, this was the result of 15 percent growth in jobs by expanding firms offset by 7 percent of positions being eliminated in firms that were contracting their workforces. One important feature of job flows is that they may contribute to productivity growth by allowing movements from low to high productivity firms. To a degree, this reflects the re-allocation of jobs from declining sectors to expanding sectors, but this is not a comprehensive explanation. A significant factor underlying job flows is the reallocation within sectors from under-performing firms to expanding firms. This study also shows that productivity growth is, on balance, positive for employment growth, as it results, more often than not, in increased employment and higher earnings rather than job losses. On the other hand, these calculations also show how hard it is for policy-makers to identify firms that will be employment and productivity growth winners.
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