Record High Numbers at Work in Mid West as Housing Challenge Grows

  • Mid West unemployment drops below pre-pandemic level to 4.5%
  • Report portrays bleak picture of housing supply across Clare, Limerick and Tipperary
  • Mid West economy showing incredible resilience with employment bouncing back stronger in post-lockdown period


Friday 13th May 2022:  Mid West unemployment level has dropped to 4.5% in May 2022, lower than the pre-pandemic figure of 4.9% .  This means that the number of individuals at work in Limerick, Clare and Tipperary has increased to circa 239,700, which is a record high for the region in a decade.

“While local employment certainly took a hit in some sectors to start of 2021 such as retail & wholesale, other areas such as the industrial sector saw their employment numbers grow over the course of the pandemic” said Seán Golden, Chief Economist, Limerick Chamber at the launch of the independent business representative bodys’ Mid-West Economic Insights Report this week.

The report, compiled by Golden and Limerick Chamber Economist Diarmuid O’Shea, analyses latest national datasets, drilling down to a local Limerick, Clare and Tipperary level to provide a unique economic overview of the Mid West economy to May 2022.

Limerick Chamber has found that regional employment bounced back to a better position than pre-pandemic since the lifting of restrictions in early 2022 however affordable housing across the region remains a key issue.

Continuing, Mr Golden said

“In total 1,331 homes were completed across theMid West in 2021 against an estimated 2,748 needed to meet population growth demands according to the ESRI. A total of 606 homes were completed in Limerick, that’s 49% short of local supply needed. “

Asked what this means for workers in Limerick, he elaborated

“When we look at Limerick specifically, we see that owner occupiers, typically workers, account for just three of every 10 new homes that are completed.  The state accounts for four in every 10 for much needed social housing and the remaining proportion of homes are being acquired by non-household purchasers.  It is deeply worrying that owner occupiers account for such a small portion of new homes delivered and this needs to be addressed.  The overall supply of homes in the county must be increased to satisfy demand and avoid any possible cost-of-living inflation.”

New in this edition of the report is Limerick Chambers’ Rental Tracker, which monitors the availability of residential rental across Limerick City and suburbs and found that in April 2022 just 21 homes were available for rent for the whole month – with an average price for Limerick of €1,677.  Of these homes, five were one-bed units and just eight were apartments.

Significant savings are to be made with owning a home across the Mid West versus renting, with the cost of owning a home in Limerick City being just 43% of the cost of renting, in Limerick County this rose to 73% , in Clare it was 71% and in Tipperary it was 66%.

Overall the report finds the outlook for the regional economy to be broadly positive, with the cost-of-living in the Mid West still lower than Dublin and Cork and the high prevalence of Higher Education Institutions and other further education and training bodies producing a pipeline of well-educated, young workers for a growing FDI sector. Results from the related Limerick Chamber Business Sentiment Survey conducted in May and also included in the report, show a positive local business outlook for the coming year.

Ends ——

Notes to editor: 

  • Full Mid West Economic Insights Report – May 2022 available here
  • Limerick Chamber is advocating for urgent policy intervention to encourage businesses to take upMid West vacant units and to incentivise conversion of vacant units to residential use.
  • Record number of employment reflects data from 2012 onwards
  • Limerick City showed to have a commercial vacancy rate of 19.4%.  Rural towns are more impacted, Abbeyfeale has a commercial vacancy of 23.6%, Newcastle West has a commercial vacancy of 21.8%.
  • Limerick Chamber is the largest business representative body in the Mid West, it is a mixed sector body of more than 400 member organisations representing approximately 50,000 jobs.

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