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The number of women engaged in paid work has reached the highest level – the Central Bank

The central bank has found that record high female employment was not covered by the Covid rules on working from home.

On the contrary, a strong economic recovery and long-term trends have resulted in more women – and young people – entering and staying in the workforce, according to a Central Bank study.

Women over 35 and young people under 25 drove employment in the Irish economy to an all-time high of 2.5 million at the end of last year.

In 2021, female employment reached a record 60% of the workforce.

“Our research shows that there is no strong evidence to date that changes during the pandemic, such as the shift to hybrid or fully remote work, have been the dominant factors supporting the recovery in employment in recent quarters,” said Central Bank Research Economist Tara Macindo. Calder.

“Instead, the increase in participation has mostly been for people under 25 and women over 35, who tend to respond strongly to the state of the business cycle.

“Women over 35 have seen increases in labor force participation for underlying structural reasons that predated the pandemic and are expected to continue for some time to come.”

The proportion of working-age people employed here has risen to 74 percent, slightly above the EU average, though still lower than countries such as the Netherlands and Estonia.

Ms McIndoe-Calder said bringing Ireland in line with Europe’s top performers “cannot happen automatically” and “probably requires some further action”.

The biggest shift during the pandemic came from women over the age of 35, who moved from the unemployed to the contact-intensive service sector.

In 2021, these jobs accounted for nearly 56.7 percent of all newly employed people, with the share of women over 35 in such jobs jumping from 37.1 to 51.2 during Covid.

In 2020 and 2021, the share of highly qualified women and people under the age of 25 entering the workforce also increased.

However, during the pandemic, fewer parents with young children were employed.

“This suggests a mixed picture of pandemic-induced labor flexibility to support labor force expansion in 2021,” the central bank said.

“Distance education may have supported labor force participation, while having young children may have represented additional caregiving responsibilities for parents that hindered labor force participation.”

The share of women over 35 working part-time rose from 64 per cent before the pandemic to 66 per cent in 2021, but the share of part-time workers across all groups fell.

The study found that domestic work, rather than importing workers from abroad, led to the recovery of jobs in Ireland.

However, the Central Bank report said the record number of people in work could depress wages, although this is likely to fade as the number of workers shrinks.

Ireland’s job vacancy rate reached 1.6 percent at the end of March, one point higher than the same period in 2021, but still well below the EU average of around 3 percent.

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