Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Ireland Unemployment Rate at 6 Year Low

Good news folks. For those readers aspiring to find employment in Ireland, recent economic recovery is driving jobs growth resulting in an encouraging drop in unemployment. Recently, Ireland's CSO (Central Statistics Office) reported the Irish unemployment rate at 10.5 percent. This represents yet another fall in unemployment since its high of over 17 percent at the height of the Great Recession. Davy Stockbrokers also forecasts that Ireland's unemployment rate could fall as low as 7 percent within 2 years.

What's Driving Jobs Growth?
Economic activity is continuing to climb. Davy's also reports that GDP growth could come close to topping 5 percent in the last fiscal year (2014). 2015 and 2016 GDP growth rates could inch toward 4 percent per year, despite the continuing economic problems in the rest of the Euro Zone, including Germany (which is currently seeing a contraction in its economic outlook).

The growth in Ireland's economy seems to be driven by sustainable activity, in particular exports. As Davy's explains, "...we have revised up our forecasts (due to) Ireland's strong export performance. The ICT (Information Computing Technology) services sector, pharmaceutical companies, and indigenous manufacturers are all seeing output expand at a rapid rate.... Our forecasts mean Irish GDP will reach its 2007 pre-recession peak in 2015;one year earlier than we previously expected."

The weakness of the euro against other currencies including the US dollar means that many export markets are getting more bang for their buck: those currencies buy more Irish goods, which are traded in euro. This isn't good news for other economies but it is helping to consolidate Ireland's economic recovery.

In addition to higher exports (which are creating Irish-based jobs), other sectors are recovering. Ireland's consumer spending is at last beginning to rebound. Despite higher taxation, disposable income is rising if only incrementally. Subsequent spending on everything from new cars to restaurant meals is finally increasing.

The government has also begun to hire to fill jobs in the public sector. Nurses, doctors, teachers, police and other public servant positions are once again being filled.

Tourism is also on its way back driven mainly be an increase in visitors from the U.S. Hotel occupancy across the country is now higher than its been in years.

Boding Well for the Future
Ireland still has much to achieve if it is to fully recover from the recent economic crisis. National debt continues at an all time high. Expenditures outpaces tax revenues, meaning that the Irish government must continue to borrow to meet daily overheads.

But the country is on its way back. As of this writing, Ireland's economy is growing faster than any other country in the EU. If you are considering a move to Ireland and want to find a job, then now is the time to begin your preparations.

A Survivor's Guide to Living in Ireland 2014 Kindle Edition Available Now
Want to learn more about living in Ireland? Are you thinking of traveling to Ireland or moving to Ireland? If so, you might consider the purchase of the 2014 Kindle ebook edition of A Survivor's Guide to Living in Ireland. Now 80,000+ words long, and having sold over 10,000 copies in its various editions, it could make the perfect gift for those interested in this wonderful country. Simply click on any of the links above to purchase this new Kindle version. You can also download various free aps to read this Kindle version on any PC or Mac. 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Ireland: In One Lifetime How the Tide Has Changed

I've lived in Ireland now for almost 33 years. With the advantage of hindsight, what I did not know when I moved here in 1982 but what I do now is that in only my lifetime - within the span of a single generation - Ireland would fundamentally change.

As I've said many times in the pages of this Blog, Ireland is no longer a twee little country sporting only carts and donkeys, coal fireplaces, and potholed narrow country lanes. It is no longer a land of poverty and ignorance. It is not a country of Leprechauns, pots of gold, or faeries. Yes, if you look hard enough you can find some of these. Even Leprechauns, I suspect, if you've drunk a belly full of porter. While such things aren't quite dead, most have been replaced by a resurgent Ireland that sports its modernity like a newly married groom. Even in the grips of astounding recession, this country is now renowned for its industry, relative wealth, and forward-looking thinking.

Much has changed since 1982. Many of those changes were wanted. Ireland was bloody poor when I moved here. And though few noticed because most of us were poor, it was heart-breaking to hear of families (including mine) who couldn't heat the house properly, couldn't eat properly, couldn't phone a relative, and couldn't take a Sunday drive simply due to the lack of a few bob. Today, most (but not all) do not want for such basics.

And yet....

I must admit that I find that I (like many Irish) miss a few things. Items or behaviours that have disappeared or changed completely because they've been washed away by the tsunami of the New Ireland. I thought I'd share a few of these with you. Perhaps it will give you a taste of what Ireland once was - of the simplicity that was to be found here.

  • Milk Bottles and Un-homogenized Milk - today we go to the store and buy milk in large plastic or paper containers. And like most places it's all homogenized and most of it tastes the same. Back years ago when I came here, milk came to the door in bottles. Bottles were capped by a foil rapper. The milk wasn't homogenized. Instead, you could see the thick cream floating at the top. Shake if you wanted full milk. Skim the cream off if you wanted a treat. My but I miss the stuff.
  • Open fires - are all but disappearing, replaced in many parts of the country by natural gas central heating. I am lucky to still have a real fire: an amazing Swedish stove that lights up like a rocket when I bother to fill the damned thing. But I still miss: the pungent smell mix of burning coal and wood blocks. The piles of turf that I used to add to it which made an ash as fine as snow. The slack - fine coal - that I'd mix with water and pour on top of the burning fire and which formed a thick cap, allowing the heat to last for hours. The crack and spark of the coal as it warmed the cockles of our hearts.
  • The Pub / Grocery / Funeral Home - all mixed together like an unexpected smorgasbord. One of these could be found in most towns. Walk in and order a pint. Step a little down the bar and order tinned goods, bread, and maybe thick slices of cold ham. Step even further, and organize an entire funeral - funeral wreaths hung from walls; pamphlets describing the hearse were piled nearby. In such a place, you could eat, drink and die, God bless 'em.
  • Old Money - we have euro now for our currency, just like much of Europe. But back when I moved over we had good old fashioned Irish Pounds and pence. Also called punts, they came in various colours and sizes to mark the various denominations. Back then, a pound would buy a few packs of cigarettes. Three or four pints. Five or six loaves of bread. God knows how many pints of milk. The coins were thick and solid. They jangled in pockets like miniature marching bands. As most say now, that was REAL money. Just don't ask me about the really old Irish money, before decimalization. It was before my time and thank God for that. I would never have bent my brain around the shillings, crowns, half-crowns, and all the rest.
  • Fresh Bread - most towns had a local bakery. In Navan, it was Spicers. And the breads that they baked! I can smell the aroma even from the distance of the years. Fat wrapped pans. Brown and soda bread still warm from the ovens. All delivered directly to your door in the electric cart that they used for such purposes, carried by the smiling Spicers Man who would also relieve you of the few pence such items might cost. Today, we buy most of our bread at the grocery store, just like the rest of the world. And frankly, it just doesn't taste quite as good.
  • Fish and Chips Wrapped in Newspaper - back then they'd wrap the fish and chips in yesterday's front pages. You could munch away and read the news at the same time. And the vinegar they'd splash over the chips somehow mixed with the newsprint for a taste that was out of this world. Today, of course, health and safety legislation has ruled against such practices. 'Tis a shame. I would rather take the risk of indigestion for that salty mix of so long ago.
  • Zero  Security - we usually didn't lock the front door. No one else did either. We didn't because we didn't have to. Ireland had unusually low crime back then. And no one had much of value to steal. Things have changed of course. Now most people lock up their houses tighter than Fort Knox. They do because they have to.
  • No Telephone - when I first moved here acquiring a telephone was virtually impossible. Few had them because a) a phone was so expensive (at the time, installation was equal to a month's wages for most people)  b) call costs were crippling and c) it could take almost a year to finally get a phone once the order - and monstrous deposit - was placed. So most people did without them. At the time, and as a young Yank, I was incensed. Me? With no Phone? Unheard of! But today I look back at the absence of a phone and almost delight at it. No calls. No one to bother you with crummy news. In fact, I wonder at the complexity that we have today and sometimes wish for those bygone years: no phones, no cell phones, no smart phones, computers, laptops, PCs, iPads... the world today is connected which is wonderful. But I sometimes wonder if by losing our isolation and time to contemplate, we haven't also lost something of ourselves.
The list, of course, goes on and on. But these are some that come to mind. Ireland continues to be a wonderful place. Certainly, where I now live in Eyeries, County Cork, continues to capture some of the joys of living in this country.

Though we now enjoy the wonders of a modern Ireland, I sometimes find that I miss those things that have passed on. A simplicity that's hard to find anymore. And a joy of living that far surpassed the material goods that most can acquire today.

Yes, that's what I miss most. The simplicity of older Ireland.

(Though I must admit: it's nice not to freeze anymore. It's nice to make a phone call when I want to. But by God, I still miss bottled milk.)