Among the detailed breakdown of the statistics contained within the latest Labour Force Survey published last week by the Central Statistics Office, are figures which show that for the second quarter of 2023 almost a quarter – 23.8% – of the 121,200 persons registered as unemployed were non-Irish citizens.
The figures also indicate that most of the increase in the numbers unemployed over the past 12 months have been made up of citizens of other than Irish nationality. The total number unemployed rose by 1,300 but there are now 3,100 more non-Irish citizens who are signing on than in the same period in 2022.
The number of people unemployed of citizenship other than Irish in the first quarter of 2022 was 25,800.
The high level of unemployment among non-Irish citizens contrasts with the extremely low overall national figure which currently stands at just 4.1%.
This suggests that, while most people who come to Ireland come to work, there is a significant and growing proportion who are state dependents.
That includes a lot more people than the adults registered as unemployed and is also indicated by the high proportion of non-Irish people in public housing and on local authority housing lists.
People who have come here to fill a job and who then find themselves unemployed are, of course, entitled to claim unemployment benefit. However, the longer term rates of social welfare dependency is something that few people in official life here have contemplated other than as evidence of structural discrimination and so on.
It was reported in February this year that unemployment among Roma people living in the Irish state was 83% and that 20% of Roma are “completely marginalised” – outcomes which, it was suggested by commentators, are down to discrimination and racism.
However, the actual report upon which the news reports were based would appear to have been the outcome of anecdotal rather than statistical research.
Roma in Ireland: Access to Fair and Decent Work was compiled by social scientists from the University of Ireland, Maynooth and published by Pavee Point, with the assistance of the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth.
The Minister, Roderic O’Gorman, praised the report’s focus on “intersectionality” and said he looked forward to being able to “draw from the present research report” in order to frame Government policy.
Which surely begs the question as to whether a pretty insubstantial booklet based on 23 interviews with members of the community claiming to be victimised, along with 11 people who work for agencies and NGOs who interact with those people, ought to be the basis for any state policy.
The report refers to previous estimates that the Roma population here was around 5,000 but claims, accurately as it happens, that this had been “significantly underestimated.”
This would suggest that Roma constitute a large proportion of those who are listed as of Romanian nationality and who have been granted PPS numbers. If the estimates of unemployment among Roma here are accurate it would also suggest that the Roma community constitutes a quite substantial proportion of those of non-Irish citizenship who are registered as unemployed.
74,475 persons of Romanian citizenship have been issued with a new PPS number in Ireland since the beginning of 2018. That makes Romania significantly the single highest country of origin across the whole of the European Union. Not all Roma people here are registered as of Romanian nationality, but they are mostly so. In the 2022 Census, 16,059 people described themselves as Roma.
Statistics from across the EU indicate that unemployment among people from outside of the EU is significantly higher than average. Even Denmark, one of the flagships of social democratic left liberalism, has recognised that this is a major issue and has introduced welfare and other reforms to restrict what they seem to regard as welfare migrancy.
It can be argued, based on these figures, that doing something similar here might well result in significant reduction in the costs of, and demands upon, public provision here including housing,