The index’s first set of figures showed Tuesday that 190,000 jobs were advertised in the last 12 months and also showed a fall in jobs advertised this April, compared with April 2002.
This fall was attributed to the war in Iraq, and generally job listings have risen in the last year.
Dr. Dan McLaughlin, the Bank of Ireland’s Group chief economist, said: “The Job Index is a very useful addition to data sources on the Irish economy, particularly in relation to the labor market, where there is a dearth of timely information on employment trends.”
And BoI Chief Financial Officer John O’Donovan said the index would confirm that there is still “a lot of puff” left in the Irish economy.
Of the jobs advertised from March 2002 to April 2003, 19 percent were professionals, 16.5 percent were in construction, 15.2 percent were in healthcare, 12.4 percent in retail, and 12.1 percent were in leisure. Agriculture represented just 0.2 percent of all jobs advertised, with IT and telecoms accounting for only 3.2 percent.
The director of the Bank of Ireland Business Banking, Tom Comerford, said that the new index would show what sectors of the economy are hiring and are therefore more buoyant — this will allow the bank to advise customers more accurately on investing and other requirements.
“We believe that this research is an excellent indicator of business confidence and anticipate that it will become a lead indicator in the Irish marketplace,” he said.
Dan McLaughlin added: “This data is important in terms of understanding the impact on personal income and also the knock-on effects on income-tax receipts, retail sales and mortgage demand.”
The index also showed that professional, construction and healthcare sectors topped the most wanted list, accounting for 50 percent of all advertisements.
The announcement of the new index came as the bank itself announced buoyant profits of 5 percent on the year to date.
“While the global economic and equity market backdrop remains uncertain, we have a business mix, strategies and management that allow us to face the future with confidence,” chief executive Michael Soden said.
Analysts welcomed the results, noting that many European banks had shown a decline in earnings.
“Their outlook is relatively upbeat, indicating there’s still buoyancy in the Irish economy, so it looks like we can expect more of the same,” said David Odlum of NCB Stockbrokers.
The sharp drop in the Irish economy since 2000 had led to fears that the country could face a full-on recession. But the Bank of Ireland’s new job index and its own moderate profits help confirm the trend that predictions of a soft landing for the economy were correct.
“Our belief is that the Irish economy has had a soft landing and continues to produce at levels that our counterparts in other countries would be pleased to have,” Soden told reporters this week. “The kicker will be truly if the equity markets turn — then there will be a very positive effect.”