By Andrew Bushe
DUBLIN — A record number of jobs were created in foreign industries supported by the Industrial Development Authority last year and many of them were paying much higher salaries than they previously had.
More than 23,300 jobs were created during 2000. This is 30 percent ahead of the previous record of 17,800 jobs in 1999.
The IDA has been responsible for attracting 1,266 companies to Ireland and recently has been attempting to spread industrial development throughout the country.
Half of the jobs were created in border areas, the Midlands and the West. This follows changes in EU regional aid and infrastructural bottlenecks around Dublin following rapid expansion.
Authority chief executive Sean Dorgan said the buoyancy in international foreign investment markets, especially in the U.S., continued during the year despite stock market volatility.
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The IDA paid out £116 million in grants, or an average of £10,084 for each job sustained.
A total of 96 projects in manufacturing and international services were secured during the year. Of these, 64 were new green-field projects, while the rest were expansions.
The major growth area was information and communications technologies, where over a third of the new jobs were created.
Productivity increases were significant, with output from IDA-backed companies increasing from £29.8 billion to over £38 billion, a growth of 28.5 percent.
The value retained in the Irish economy has increased by over £1.2 billion — 11.6 percent — in the year and now stands at nearly £12 billion a year.
"This is the new wealth which generates much of the downstream employment in the Irish services economy, " Dorgan said.
Job losses, at 8,100, were "in line with normal expectations" and mainly involved lower-value industries and lower-skilled jobs.
About 40 percent of the new jobs negotiated last year in IDA-backed projects involved salaries above £25,000 — compared with a quarter of all jobs in 1999.
"This reflects an upward movement in the value and skills’ requirements of the new overseas companies coming to Ireland and in the expansion of the existing base of overseas companies," Dorgan said.
Major overseas investments during the year involved Intel, American Home Products, IBM, Lucent Technologies, Teradyne, Cardinal Health, Euroconex and Prudential Insurance of America.
Dorgan said ebusiness company expansion had been unprecedented, with over 50 percent of the 2,500 jobs predicted in projects paying in excess of £40,000 a year.
Ireland has had a decade of exceptional industrial growth, but Dorgan said he expects the pace to moderate over the next year "reflecting lower economic expectations in the U.S.", steady growth in Europe and changes in Irish competitiveness.
"So long as we continues to build on our strengths in the areas of technology and skills and address our infrastructural needs, we can continue to prosper," he said.