A new report measuring economic realities across the country has been published by Ibec today. The business representative organisation says its ambition is to make Ireland a better place to live and work. The Local Economic Indicators report uses public data to analyse 31 local authority areas.
Aidan Sweeney, senior policy executive with Ibec, said better lives mean better business. One of the findings of the report is that some people have excessive commuting times. The most extreme cases exist in the counties immediately bordering Dublin - Kildare, Meath and Wicklow - where one out of every five people spend a minimum of two hours every day commuting. Nationally, almost one in three people have a daily commute of 30 minutes to an hour each way.
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"Ireland 2040, the National Planning Framework has set out an ambition that the majority of people would have a commute of 30 minutes or less. Our research found that this is already true for 57% of people. In Limerick, for example, the majority of people have a commute of less than 30 minutes to work. That shows that people can live close to where they work," he said.
"People in Galway spend up to two days every year in traffic - that's not just commuting, that's traffic on top of that. Imagine what they could do with that time," he said.
Long commutes are bad for business because they impact on the ability of companies to attract people, and they impact on people's quality of life, according to Aidan Sweeney.
The report also found that companies are locating where the talent is. Mr Sweeney pointed to the the highest performing regions of the country, which are clustered around the major cities. He said Galway, Cork and Dublin, in particular, have a high concentration of STEM related graduates, and companies are locating in those areas but not exclusively.
The report found that quality of life factors such as the availability and affordability in housing is a growing determinant of the country's ability to compete internationally.
Connectivity is also important to business and today's Ibec report found that Northern and Western regions are most dependent on the National Broadband Plan. Over 50% of premises in Leitrim are dependent on the scheme, with Monaghan (48%) and Roscommon (47%) second and third highest in terms of NBP dependency. "About 540,000 businesses and homes can't access broadband, so it's not just businesses who are not attracted to an area, but people in their own homes can't necessarily work from home," Mr Sweeney said.
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