06 Dec 2021

Carlow lagging behind due to unequal economic recovery, report

Carlow, Waterford, Kilkenny and Wexford falling further behind

Carlow Carlow Carlow

Number of people working in the South East decreases

Carlow's economic recovery is "a good deal weaker" than the rest of the country as regional areas are lagging behind, according to a new report from the South East Economic Monitor.

The report, prepared by academics from Waterford IT, reveals that of "great concern" is between the first three months of 2017 and 2018, the number of people in work increased by 62,000 nationally but decreased by 2,400 in the South East. 

According to one of the report’s authors, Dr Ray Griffin, says that what is "driving the region’s poor economic performance is a structural issue related to the SE’s difficult relationship with the State".

"In particular, the very pronounced deficits in regional higher education capacity, acute hospital services, IDA supported employment drive ever lower job quality, and international tourism," he said. 

The report states: "There has been no approved capital investment in the Institute of Technology sector (excluding DIT).

"The two regional providers have generated small projects from their own resources; we can identify two selffunded building projects; IT Carlow’s investment in the Haughton student centre (€12m) and WIT’s investment in the controversial Carriganore Sports Facilities (€14m).

"If included, this brings the 5-year regional investment to 1.57% of the overall State investment." 

The South East remains a very attractive tourist destination, attracting 17.5% of domestic holidaymakers, but just 7.2% of international visitors.

Dr Griffin attributes this to "poor marketing support from Fáilte Ireland", and weakening international access, with services suspended in Waterford Airport and ferry services being reduced in Rosslare in favour of Dublin.

Across the region there are a number of flagship developments over the past year that are likely to feed through into economic growth and this includes MSD’s investment in Carlow. 

Rents remain considerably more affordable than elsewhere with the average rent in Carlow coming in at €846.

The report, now in its third year of publication, alsohighlights the labour market in Carlow and the wider South East as an area of concern.

The South East is one of only two of the seven regions not to have reached its regional Action Plan for Jobs (APJ) target of bringing regional unemployment to within one percentage point of the State average.

The report finds it is "highly unlikely" the South East will meet its target of creating an additional 25,000 jobs by 2020, but since it was launched in Quarter Three of 2015, only 5,400 net new jobs have been added.

Despite 2016 being another record year for the IDA, with approximately 12,000 net jobs added, the region accounted for just 5.7% of these net additional jobs.

Meanwhile, Enterprise Ireland supports a fair share of jobs in the region, but companies in the region are not very successful at accessing Enterprise Ireland’s competitive grants, according to John Casey, one of the report’s authors.

READ: Full report on the South East's economic performance

Mr Casey said: “Higher education remains one of the main reasons for the continued poor performance of the region.

"New Census 2016 data shows that education attainment in the South East is far below the national average and is leading to a ‘demographic donut’, with a missing generation of 20-45 years now evident in the CSO returns."

The South East has weaker human capital, driven by under-investment in higher education within the region.

The report says this "brain-drain" is likely to continue to accelerate with the recently announced Ireland2040 and technological university plans which concentrate further development of higher education in the seven universities.

To stabilise the region’s population, 7,944 additional degree places are required in the region based on universal university type services.

Meanwhile, new car registrations are a bellwether for consumer sentiment, and continued strong regional sales, although weaker than national sales, indicate a sustained improvement in consumer confidence.

Sales rose by 2,008 units in 2016, a 17% YoY growth regionally, compared to 18% growth nationally.

The South East Economic Monitor is a report published by the South East Network for Economic and Social Research (SENSER), an independent research initiative of two research centres in Waterford Institute of Technology- the AIB Centre for Finance and Business Research (AIB-CFBR) and Centre for Enterprise Development and Regional Economy (CEDRE). 

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