3.4.2 Employment

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3.4.2 Employment

Employment in the county declined over the period 2006 to 2011 in line with the recession in the World and European economies.  Between 2011 and 2016 there was a steady increase in employment in all sectors except Public Administration and Manufacturing.

Table 3.12: Occupation by Industry[1]





Agriculture, forestry and fishing



Building and construction



Manufacturing industries



Commerce and trade



Transport and communications



Public administration



Professional services









Source: CSO 2011, 2016

At a national level post 2016 as the economy recovered jobs continued to grow and unemployment continued to fall.  This is illustrated by CSO figures of June 2019, which show that the country was close to full employment as the jobless rate slumped to just 4.4%[2].

The CSO’s Business Demography Survey reports that there were 4,635 businesses operating in County Kilkenny (in 2018), with 20,321 people employed.  The Retail and Wholesale Sector with 909 businesses employed the largest percentage of people (at c23%).  The Manufacturing Sector employed the next highest proportion (at c20%) and the Hospitality Sector was the third highest employer (at c17% - c42% higher than the national average employed in Hospitality.) The Construction Sector with 1,200 enterprises accounted for the largest proportion of businesses (at c26%) and c15% of those employed (c40% higher than the national average employed in Construction.)

Kilkenny has built a strong cohort of shared services operations, a sizeable portfolio of international financial services companies and has strong activity in the future growth sectors of Fintech/Regtech[3]/Insurtech[4] and the global payments sector.  It plays a critical role as a central location within the Ireland South East financial services cluster with key companies including State Street, Taxback Group, Carne Group and VHI.

Kilkenny has distinct competitive advantages in the Agri and Agri-tech sectors with major companies operating in the county including Glanbia and Connolly’s Red Mills, complemented by an emerging artisan food producer base of micro and medium sized food producers. Glanbia have continued to expand and new entrants such as AB Agri being attracted by the level of innovation and agri-tech research originating from the county.

Kilkenny, home to the Design & Craft Council Ireland headquarters and Grennan Mill Craft School, has long been recognised as the centre of Ireland’s design and craft sector. Kilkenny’s reputation as a centre for creativity and design thinking continues to be enhanced with the expansion of Cartoon Saloon and Lighthouse Studios.

Notwithstanding, there is some uncertainty to future performance due to the potential economic impact of Brexit  on the Irish economy. However, since the first quarter of 2020 the situation has changed dramatically due to the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic. There is now a high degree of uncertainty around economic performance for the remainder of 2020 and into 2021 and beyond.


[1] Source: Census 2006 and 2011 and 2016

[2] Irish independent June 5th 2019

[3] Regulatory technology, in short Regtech, is a new technology that uses information technology to enhance regulatory processes.

[4] Insurtech is any technology that's used by insurance companies to streamline their operations, provide a better service, or save money