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Persons not in the Labour Force

LFS estimates were updated on 22nd Feb 2024 to incorporate updated population estimates for the period 2016 Q3 to 2023 Q3, based on the results of Census 2022. LFS results are updated in this way following each Census of Population. For further information see Background Notes.
The data in this publication does not reflect these updates. Please refer to the relevant tables on LFS Px-stat for updated LFS estimates.

Persons not in the Labour Force

In Q3 2022 there were 59,500 persons available for work but not seeking work, this is down from 92,400 a year earlier and 162,800 in Q3 2020

Online ISSN: 2565-5728
CSO statistical publication, , 11am

The Background Notes at the end of this release contain the definitions for respondents to the Labour Force Survey (LFS) to be classified as employed, unemployed or inactive based on the ILO criteria. Respondents are first asked a suite of questions to check if they were Employed. If a person is not classified as Employed, they are asked a suite of questions to determine if they should be classified as Unemployed. The criteria are as follows:

  • Not classified as Employed
  • Has been actively seeking work in the 4 weeks prior to interview
  • Is available to start work in the 2 weeks after the interview

Persons aged 15 years or over are classified as not being in the Labour Force (Inactive) if they do not satisfy the ILO criteria for being classified as Employed or Unemployed.

Unlike previous downturns, the COVID-19 Pandemic had a peculiar effect on the Labour Market in Ireland. This is because displaced workers during COVID-19 lockdown were more likely to be classified as Inactive rather than Unemployed as the majority, although available to start work, had not been seeking work in the previous 4 weeks. Thus, they failed to meet the criteria to be classified as Unemployed.

The number of persons not in the labour force was 1,455,100, which was up 3.4% or 47,400 from a year earlier. See Table 7.1.

The Potential Additional Labour Force (PALF) is the sum of the two groups ‘Seeking work but not immediately available’ and ‘Available for work but not seeking work’. Persons in the PALF are not part of the standard labour force, which encompasses only Employed and Unemployed people, but they have a stronger attachment to the labour market than other persons not in the labour force. Persons ‘Available for work but not seeking work’ accounted for the majority of the PALF in Quarter 3 of 2020 to 2022.

The number of persons in employment increased by 83,000 in the year to Q3 2022. This was accompanied by a fall of 30,000 in the number of persons unemployed and a rise of 47,400 in the number of persons outside of the labour force. This meant that persons re-entering the labour market in Q3 2022 were more likely to have found a job rather than being classified as unemployed. See Table 7.1.

Q3 2020Q3 2021Q3 2022
Available for work but not seeking work162.892.459.5
Seeking work but not immediately available12.413.713.7

Of those who stated that they wanted to work but were not seeking work or available for work in Q3 2022, 13.8% said this was due to education or training. This compares to 16.9% a year earlier and 20.8% in Q3 2020.  Persons with own illness or disability accounted for 39.4% of the total in Q3 2022, and this was more than the 36.1.% and 34.3% recorded in both Q3 2021 and Q3 2020 respectively.

Q3 2020Q3 2021Q3 2022
Other reasons15.116.513.8
Care responsibilities/personal family reasons29.930.432.9
Own illness or disability34.336.139.4
Education or training20.816.913.8
Table 7.1 Detailed breakdown of classification of persons aged 15 years or more not in the Labour Force, Q3 2020 to Q3 2022