Employment in Agriculture held relatively steady in 2015 despite a significant increase in employment in the construction sector.

According to latest figures from the CSO, over 106,000 people were employed in agriculture in the fourth quarter of 2015. This compares to 105,000 in the same period in 2014.

The relatively steady Agriculture figures come despite a significant increase in the number of people employed in construction in 2015. Traditionally, there has been a strong correlation between increased employment in construction and a reduction in those working in agriculture.

The latest figures from the CSO National Household Survey shows the annual increase of 44,100 (+2.3%) in employment across the economy was represented by an increase of 18,900 (+1.8%) in male employment and an increase of 25,200 (+2.8%) in female employment over the year.

Employment increased in twelve of the fourteen economic sectors over the year and fell in two. The largest rates of increase were recorded in the Construction (+8.5% or 9,900) and the Other NACE Activities (+4.7% or 4,600) sectors.

The greatest rate of decline in employment was recorded in the Financial, insurance and real estate activities (-3.9% or -4,000) sector.

The overall employment rate among persons aged 15-64 was 63.9% in Q4 2015 compared to 62.6% in Q4 2014. See table 8.

The number of employees in Q4 2015 was 1,646,700, up 41,200 (+2.6%) over the year. The number of self-employed persons increased by 1,000 or +0.3% over the year to 321,300.

Farm incomes

The Annual IFA Farm Income Review, compiled by IFA Economist Kevin Kilcline shows that National Farm Income in 2015 is estimated to have fallen over 3% or €75m on 2014.

IFA National Chairman Jer Bergin, responding to the estimates, noted said that in real terms, farm incomes continue to fall, with National Farm Income in 2015 estimated to be only 67% of 1995 levels.

“When compared to other sectors of the economy, average family farm Incomes are only 55% of the average Industrial Wage.”

Bergin said despite the sector’s positive contribution to economic recovery, profitability at farm level clearly remains a major challenge across all farming enterprises.