2022 in numbers: How Irish business and economy emerged from Covid

From the number of homes built to the amount of cattle on the island, the Central Statistics Office reveals a changing Ireland.

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) has today (5 January) released Ireland 2022: The Year in Numbers – Part 2 Business and Economy.

The numbers paint an interesting picture of how Ireland has emerged from the pandemic. They complement the latest exchequer figures that show Ireland has achieved a €5bn exchequer surplus. This is a €12.4bn swing from the €7.4bn deficit recorded in 2021, which reflects both the strong growth in tax revenue and the decline in Covid-related public expenditure.

Here are some of the top figures:

  • Inflation hit a 38-year high in 2022 mostly driven by rising energy costs and food prices.
  • More new dwellings were completed the first three quarters of this year than the whole of 2021.
  • In the 12 months to October 2022 the lowest median or mid-point price paid for house was €148,000 in Longford, while the highest was €620,000 in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown.
  • Key economic indicators all rose during the first nine months of 2022 when compared with the same period last year, such as Gross Domestic Product (+11.7%), personal spending (+7.2%), and Modified Domestic Demand (+10.1%).
  • During the first six months of 2022 we made 6.6m domestic same-day visits.
  • While 1.1m more passengers used Dublin airport in October 2022 when compared with October 2021, this was 200,000 fewer than the same month in 2019 (pre-pandemic).
  • Fertiliser prices had increased by 177.8% in the 12 months to April 2022.
  • The total number of cattle of 7.4m in the country exceeds the number of people by more than two million.

The 2022 highlights, based, based on data published by the CSO throughout 2022 up to 14 December 2022, is divided up under the following topics: Prices; Housing; Economy; Travel & Tourism; and Agriculture.



November 2022 was the fourteenth straight month where the annual increase for the Consumer Price Index (CPI) was at least 5.0%. Although annual inflation fell slightly in the most recent November figures, inflation hit its highest level in 38 years in 2022. Over the course of the year to November 2022, there were significant price increases noted in electricity (+64%), gas (+89%), liquid fuels or home heating oil (+57%), and solid fuels (+47%). Prices rose across a range of food products such as fresh whole milk (+33%), sugar (+25%), butter (+23%), eggs (+21%), and bread (+18%) over the 12 months to November 2022.

Household Inflation

In September, the CSO estimated that households with the lowest incomes experienced higher inflation rates of up to 9.5%, while those in the highest income category had annual estimated inflation of 7.5%. For households in the lowest 10% in terms of income, Electricity, Gas & Other Fuels was the largest contributor to their estimated inflation rate followed by Rent. We also noted that over the five-year period from September 2017 to September 2022, households that rent their accommodation had higher estimated inflation than households that own their home.

Wholesale Price Index

Other CSO releases also track changes in energy prices and the origins of the current costs to consumers can be seen in figures dating back to 2021 in the Wholesale Price Index (WPI). CSO data shows there were very large increases in wholesale electricity prices during 2021, with prices up more than 260% compared with the 2020 average. Other wholesale energy fuels also increased in price, and the index for all energy products was up by almost 161% on 2020. While wholesale energy prices continued to rise throughout most of 2022, wholesale electricity prices were almost 37% lower in October 2022 than in October 2021 – the lowest level for the past 12 months. Also, worth noting were some of the most significant changes in producer prices for food products over the 12 months to October 2022 such as Dairy Products (+51%), Fish & Fish Products (+21%), and Fruit & Vegetables (+16%).


Construction Costs

Wholesale prices also influence construction costs. The most recent WPI release said the most notable increases in costs in the Construction sector were in Fabricated Metal which rose by almost 57% over the 12 months to October 2022, and the cost of PVC pipes and fittings, used in part by the plumbing industry, also rose by 28% over the same period.

New Dwelling Completions

During the first three quarters of 2022, new dwelling completions stood at 20,807, which was greater than the total for the whole of 2021 (20,560). The release in October showed new dwelling completions in July, August, and September (Q3) 2022 were up 63% from Q3 2021. Over the same period, apartment completions increased by 153%, scheme dwellings rose by 44%, and single dwellings were up 27%. Completions increased by more than 30% in all regions of Ireland from Q3 2021 and were up by 113% in Dublin.

Planning Permissions

There was an annual decrease of 41% in the total number of dwelling units approved in Q3 2022 compared with Q3 2021. The figures published in December showed that housing units accounted for 65% of all dwelling units approved, while apartments made up the remaining 35%. In the 12 months to September 2022, the number of multi-development houses that had received planning permission rose by than 15%, compared with a drop of more than 18% in one-off houses.

Property Prices

In September, the national property index had reached the value of 167.8, which was 2.6% above its highest level at the peak of the property boom in April 2007. The most recent national Residential Property Price Index (RPPI) published in December put the median price or mid-point price of a dwelling purchased in the 12 months to October 2022 at €300,000, with the lowest median price at €148,000 recorded in Longford and the highest median price of €620,000 in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown. The most expensive Eircode area over the last 12 months to October 2022 was A94 ‘Blackrock’, with a median price of €732,500, while F35 ‘Ballyhaunis’ was the least expensive at €124,500.


National Accounts

Figures published in December showed that Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was estimated to have increased by 2.3% in Q3 2022. For Gross National Product (GNP) – a measure of economic activity that excludes the profits of multinationals – a decline of 2.2% was estimated for the quarter. The multinational-dominated sectors accounted for almost 56% of total value added in the economy in Q3 2022, while all other sectors made up 44%. Results for the first nine months of 2022 (January to September 2022) compared with the equivalent period of 2021 showed GDP increased by 11.7%, personal spending rose by 7.2%, while Modified Domestic Demand, a broad measure of underlying domestic activity and spending, grew by 10.1% over the same period.

Wealth and Taxes

A release in November showed that as the Irish economy grew in 2021, it resulted in a wealthier household sector, which saw households add €32bn to their wealth in that year. Household net wealth held in financial assets stood at €366bn at the end of 2021, up from €318bn at the end of 2020. This is in addition to wealth held in assets such as houses.

A separate release published in November also showed that almost half (48%) of taxes in 2021 were generated from taxes on income. This included income tax amounting to €23bn and corporation tax of €15bn. Taxes on products accounted for 28% of taxes, including VAT of €17bn and excise duties of €6bn. Corporation tax receipts almost doubled in the last five years from €8bn in 2017 to €15bn in 2021.


In December, the CSO published Ireland’s Trade in Goods for 2021, which showed that we exported more than €165bn of goods and imported almost €104bn. Exports of Chemicals & Related Products accounted for 62% of total exports, with a value of almost €103bn. While we sent the EU more than €61bn of our exports, the US was the largest single export partner with exports of €52bn. Our biggest import partner in 2021 was the UK at €19.5bn of our imports.

Goods Exports and Imports published in February showed the value of imports rose to €103.8bn in 2021, which was the first-time imports exceeded the €100bn mark in a single year. The year 2021 had the highest level of exports and imports on record. The USA was the largest export destination in 2021, accounting for €52.5bn or 32% of total exports. Separate figures also showed that the USA was the biggest ultimate investor in Ireland in 2020, accounting for more than €800bn of our inward Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) positions.

The number of vessels arriving in Irish ports and the gross tonnage of all arriving vessels in 2021 both increased by 7% compared with 2020. Irish ports handled nearly 54 million tonnes of goods in 2021 – up 5% on 2020.

COVID-19 Impact

According to a release in June, while overall labour productivity in 2020 increased by 14.1%, labour productivity was down -56% in Transport and -9% for Accommodation & Food, two of the sectors most impacted by COVID-19. Due to prolonged lockdowns and restrictions on opening hours associated with the pandemic, the Transport and Accommodation & Food sectors were among the least productive in 2020.

Business Demography in July showed the pandemic had the biggest effect on the Accommodation & Food Service Activities sector, which had a decrease of 29.1% in persons engaged.

The pandemic had a notable effect on the Retail Sales Index (RSI) in Ireland in 2020, with the highest seasonally adjusted monthly decrease in the volume of retail sales in April (-37.3%) related to the first lockdown, followed by a sharp recovery in May 2020 (+29.8%) and June 2020 (+36.6%) as the country re-opened.

The provisional October Retail Index showed the volume of all Retail Sales in October 2022 was 3.2% higher when compared with February 2020 (pre-COVID-19). The largest increases in the volume of Retail Sales in October 2022 since pre-pandemic were in Clothing, Footwear & Textiles (+24.6%), Pharmaceuticals, Medical & Cosmetic Articles (+24.1%), and Electrical Goods (+12.0%). Figures for October show the proportion of Retail Sales transacted online (from Irish registered companies) decreased from 6.0% in October 2020 during the pandemic to 4.8% in October 2022.

A release published in December showed how firms responded to the pandemic, as we saw that 15% of enterprises experienced an increase in sales via websites or apps in 2022 due to the pandemic. In 2022, one in ten set up a website to facilitate online sales while 12% provided a “click & collect” service. More than one-third (35%) of enterprises received orders via websites or apps from customers located in Ireland in 2022.

While 40% of enterprises had difficulty sourcing raw materials or intermediate products from suppliers abroad due to COVID-19 in 2020, more than half (54%) had been impacted by increased regulatory burden due to Brexit.

Tourism & Transport


The aviation industry was one of the hardest hit by the pandemic, but there are signs of recovery. More than 13.8m passengers passed through the main Irish airports in the first half of 2022, which was more than 12.8m more passengers than those using the airports in the first half of 2021. However, while 1.1m more passengers used Dublin airport in October 2022 when compared with October 2021, this was 200,000 fewer than the same month in 2019 (pre-pandemic). More than 9.1m passengers passed through our main airports between April and June (Q2) 2022, which was 13% lower when compared with the same period in 2019. During the same period, Dublin airport handled 84% of all flights (55,479), while Cork handled 7% of all flights (4,822).

The December Transport Bulletin showed that public transport journeys have increased since the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions and now match pre-pandemic numbers. In fact, the number of bus journeys outside Dublin exceeded pre-pandemic 2019 levels for the same month, while car traffic count data remained only slightly below 2019 figures.


During the first six months of 2022, we made 6.6m domestic same-day visits. During April, May, and June (Q2) 2022, we spent €762m on domestic overnight trips with those on holiday spending €482m of this, while those visiting friends or relatives spent €117m. There were 2.2m outbound overnight trips taken during the same period by Irish residents, who spent €2.3bn.


Toyota (12,435) was the most popular make of new private cars licensed in 2021, followed by Volkswagen (12,422), Hyundai (10,032), Skoda (8,656), and Ford (7,255). Together those five made up almost half (49.9%) of all new private cars licensed that year. The most popular model of private car licensed in 2021 was Hyundai Tucson followed by Toyota Corolla and Toyota Yaris, and the most popular colour was grey at 35%.



Fertiliser prices were of significant interest throughout 2022. In a release published in December, it was noted that the price of fertilisers experienced the largest increase of all inputs in 2022, with prices increasing by an average of 141%. However, the full impact of higher prices was allayed in 2022 by a reduction of 19% in the volume of fertilisers used on Irish farms. As a result, the cost of fertilisers was estimated to have increased by 97% to €1.2bn.

Meanwhile, the Agricultural Input Price Index showed the price of fertilisers had increased by 177.8% in the 12 months to April 2022. While prices have stabilised since June, over the 12 months to October 2022, input price increases can be seen in fertiliser prices (+97.7%), energy prices (+41.4%), and feed prices (+32.9%).

Ag Accounts

The South-West region in 2021 spent the most on fertilisers, accounting for 18% or €111m of the country’s total spend on fertilisers. The South-West region had the largest growth in Agricultural Operating Surplus in 2021 at €216m (+29%). The CSO’s final estimate of Agricultural Operating Surplus for 2021 showed an annual increase of 17.6% to €3.7bn.

Crops and Livestock

The total number of dairy cows increased by 2.4% to 1.6m in 2021, while the total number of cattle increased to 7.4m. Sheep numbers rose by 1.6% to 5.6m, while pig numbers increased by 7.1% to 1.7m. The largest number of cattle (1.5m) was in the Mid-West region, the largest number of sheep (1.5m) was in the West region, and the largest number of pigs (444,900) was in the Border region. The amount of land used to grow the three main cereals of winter wheat, winter oats, and winter barley all saw significant increases: winter wheat up 20,800 hectares (ha) or by almost 59%, winter oats up 5,600 ha or 68%, and winter barley up 16,100 ha or by 31%.

There was increased production across certain crops such as wheat, oats, and barley in 2021 and the yield of potatoes increased from 33.8 tonnes per hectare to 45.6 tonnes (+35.0%).

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