Irish multinationals employ over 1.2 million people overseas

Irish multinationals had a turnover of almost €238 billion in 2020
Irish multinationals employ over 1.2 million people overseas

Irish multinational enterprises employed over 1.2 million people overseas and had a turnover in excess of €237.7 billion in 2020.

The Central Statistics Office's (CSO's) 'Business in Ireland 2020' figures show foreign-owned multinationals in Ireland employed 457,990 people two years ago, posting a turnover of €581.9 billion.

Small and Medium Enterprises (those employing less than 250 people) accounted for 99.8 per cent of the total number of enterprises in the State in 2020, representing 68.4 per cent of all people engaged.

Large enterprises (employing more than 250 people) had 31.6 per cent of all persons engages, but accounted for just o.2 per cent of total enterprises.

By turnover, SMEs made up 41.9 per cent of 2020's total, while the remaining 58.1 per cent came from large enterprises.

In 2020, 18,743 new businesses were established in the State, up from 14,113 in 2019. In contrast, 17,405 enterprises ceased trading in 2019. A figure for 2020 is not yet available as a business must be inactive for two years before a 'final death' can be declared.

The services sector had the greatest share of people engaged during the year, accounting for 47.4 per cent (807,781 workers), followed by the distribution sector with 21.9 per cent (372, 853).

Industry employed 15.3 per cent, while construction represented 9.2 per cent and the financial and insurance sector made up 6.1 per cent.


The CSO notes the Covid-19 pandemic had a significant impact on the retail sector in particular, especially during the first national lockdown when all non-essential stores were closed.

During this time, retail sales fell by 37.3 per cent in April (while the country was in a strict lockdown) before experiencing a sharp recovery in May and June as the country reopened and sales rebounded by 29.8 per cent and 36.6 per cent respectively.

The figures also show that subsequent lockdowns did not have as great an impact on the sector, with sales dropping by 12 per cent in November 2020 when the second national lockdown was in place.

With shops closed, a lot of business moved online as the figures show the percentage of online transactions by Irish registered companies increase by 15.3 per cent in April 2020. However, as physical shops reopened that summer, the volume of these online transactions fell back to 6.7 per cent.

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