New census data on labour market participation of migrants released

07 Dec 2023


On 5 December 2023, the Central Statistics Office released Profile 7 – Employment, Occupations and Commuting of Census 2022. Profile 7 provides detailed analysis of labour market participation, unemployment and occupations, by country of citizenship and for recently arrived migrants.  For the overall population, Census 2022 data records increases in the number of people employed, standing at 2.3 million in 2022 (up 16% from Census 2016) and a decrease of 34% in the number of people unemployed (more than 176,000) when compared with 2016 Census data.

Labour force participation and citizenship

There were 420,465 non-Irish citizens aged 15 years and over in the labour force (i.e. employed or unemployed) in April 2022, an increase of 21% since 2016. Labour force participation among non-Irish citizens was higher than for Irish citizens, however the unemployment rate among both groups was similar with 9% and 8% respectively.

Highest participation rates were reported by Croatian, Italian and Spanish citizens. Lower labour participation rates are in part due to high numbers of students for some non-Irish citizen groups. For example, American and Chinese citizens reported some of the lowest employment rates, however had high student populations at 19% and 22% respectively.

Labour force participation of recently arrived migrants

In the year prior to April 2022, 77,307 people aged 15 years and over migrated to Ireland. Of these, one-quarter were Irish citizens (18,961) and nearly three-quarters were non-Irish citizens (57,193). Of all people who moved to Ireland in the year prior to April 2022, 56% (43,650) were employed.

The labour force participation rate (numbers employed or unemployed as a percentage of the population aged 15 and over) among recent migrants who were Irish citizens was 73% and 66% among non-Irish citizens. A higher proportion of students was the main reason for the difference, accounting for 10% of migrants who were Irish citizens and 24% for non-Irish migrants.

Recent Chinese migrants had the lowest participation rate at 20%, which is partly explained by a high proportion of students (72%) among this group. Recently arrived Croatians were ranked as most likely to be employed, with 89% in work while recent migrants from the UK reported the highest proportion of retirees at 15%.

Where do recently arrived migrants work?

The human health and social work sector received the largest number of those who arrived in the year up to April 2022 at 5,748 recently arrived migrants including 27% Irish citizens. The accommodation and food service sector had 5,545 recently arrived migrants, approximately 90% of these were non-Irish citizens.


The unemployment rates of non-Irish and Irish citizens was similar: 9% compared with 8% among Irish citizens. The highest unemployment rate was recorded for Ukrainian citizens (36%) as Census 2022 took place following the arrival of Ukrainian citizens after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The unemployment rate among those from African countries stood at 15% and was the second highest rate of unemployment while other European Union citizens living in Ireland reported an unemployment rate of 8%.

Unemployment and English language skills

In 2022, there were 596,849 people aged 15 years and over who spoke a language other than English or Irish at home. The CSO reports a decrease in the unemployment rate of this group, down to 9% from 21% in 2011. In general, it was reported the unemployment rate increased as the ability to speak English decreased. The unemployment rate among those who had strong English language skills was 8% which is the same as the overall census unemployment rate. High rates of unemployment (21%) were reported by those who had the lowest English language skills.


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