New research detects eight key characteristics to help identify those at risk of long-term unemployment among jobseekers in Ireland

A new ESRI study, commissioned by the Department of Social Protection, updates the statistical profiling model used by the Department to identify those jobseekers at risk of becoming long-term unemployed, the Probability of Exit (PEX) model.

The study found that the eight key characteristics associated with the risk of long-term unemployment in 2018 are:

  1. claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance
  2. not being recently employed
  3. having low levels of educational attainment
  4. poor (self-perceived) health
  5. having a history of long-term unemployment
  6. having previously been on the Community Employment (CE) scheme
  7. not having access to one’s own transport
  8. being older

The study also examines whether the characteristics associated with the risk of long-term unemployment have changed since the PEX model was originally developed in 2006.

In this regard, the study first of all found that the pattern of exit from unemployment in 2018 was similar to that in 2006, despite the fact that 12 years separate the two periods and a global recession occurred in between.

The characteristics associated with long-term unemployment risk in 2018 and in 2006 were also found to be similar. In particular, the likelihood of leaving unemployment before 12 months was found to decline with age, literacy problems, the presence of children, a previous spell of long-term unemployment and being casually employed. On the other hand, being in very good health was found to increase this likelihood in both periods.

Compared to the situation in 2006, however, older workers were found to be much less likely to leave the Live Register before 12 months in 2018. On the other hand, location, in terms of whether a jobseeker lived in a rural area, village, town or city, was found to be a less important predictor in 2018.

A jobseeker’s willingness to move for a job was found to be a very important factor for men’s unemployment duration in 2006, but this was no longer the case in 2018.

Finally, marital status was an important factor for women in determining their unemployment duration in 2006 but this was no longer the situation in 2018. On the other hand, having access to one’s own transport was important for women in 2018 but not in 2006.

The research is based on jobseeker administrative data from 2018 to 2020.

Seamus McGuinness, an author of the report commented: “This study not only updates an important tool that helps improves the accuracy and efficiency of jobseeker supports but also provides important information to policy makers regarding how the factors influencing jobseekers’ risk of falling into long-term unemployment have changed over time”.