A new economic monitor shows that over 15,000 jobs have been created in Limerick over the last five years, while the number of start-ups in the city reached a new high in 2018.

The Limerick Economic Monitor (LEM), which tracks and analyses the city's economic and fiscal status, is the first economic monitor to be put in place in an Irish city outside of Dublin.

The monitor, which will be published twice a year, aims to fill a gap in the availability of reliable data on regional economic output.

Commissioned by Limerick City and County Council and produced by EY-DKM Economic Advisory, the LEM tracks Limerick's performance against key economic indicators including employment, enterprise, investment, housing, consumer sentiment and commercial property.  

The monitor reveals that Limerick is a driver of regional economic growth and increased investment from public and private companies, as well as improved national and global economic conditions have positioned the city as "the engine" of the Mid-West Region. 

It showed that since 2013, 15,800 new jobs have been created in Limerick, with an additional 3,072 jobs created in the county last year. 

On Enterprise, the monitor showed the number of start-ups in Limerick reached a new high in 2018 with 820 start-ups - an annual increase of 14.8%.

Between 2017 and 2018 investment in Limerick grew by 46.1%, and today's LEM said that new and existing companies having invested a total of €2.2 billion since 2013.

Meanwhile, commercial unit vacancies in Limerick are decreasing and office rents are the lowest amongst the counties of Dublin, Cork, and Galway.

Rent per square metre in the city stands at €215, compared to Galway at €323, Cork at €350, the Dublin suburbs at €323 and offices in Dublin 2 and 4 standing at €646. 

The opening of new developments such as Gardens International will increase the supply of office stock in the city, the monitor added.

Limerick was also found to be an affordable alternative to Dublin and Cork, where house prices and rents have risen exponentially. 

While these increases have been reflected in Limerick, local estate agents identify about 15 developments on site in Castletroy, Mungret, and the Northside which are working to increase supply.

Recent CSO data also showed that Limerick is the only Irish city, outside of Dublin, where disposable income is higher than the national average. 

At €21,979 per head, disposable income in Limerick is now at its highest level since 2008's €22,300 per head.

Mayor of the City and County of Limerick James Collins said that Limerick's growth is set to continue with the development of a number of iconic project.

These include the eagerly anticipated development of the Limerick Twenty Thirty Opera and Cleeves sites, the University of Limerick's €8m investment plan for a city centre campus and a number of other large-scale private investments. 

"The huge growth in employment numbers in Limerick, including the influx of foreign direct investment, reflects where Limerick is at today and how far it has come. The LEM also highlights the importance of creating high-value jobs across a broad range of sectors in order to retain Limerick's well-educated graduates," Mr Collins said. 

Ciara Morley, Economist at EY-DKM Economic Advisory, said the analysis shows just how exceptional Limerick's recovery has been and the very positive developments which are continuing to drive its future prosperity as a region.  

"A sustained commitment to investing in the city and county, and in infrastructure which will continue to support its growth and accessibility is key to this success," the economist said. 

"Importantly, our findings also show that Limerick's affordability and the quality of life which it represents, are positioning the region as a highly competitive and attractive location in which to live and work now and in the years to come," she added.