Falling dole numbers 'a sign that the best and brightest are fleeing'
THE number of people signing on the dole fell again last month -- and immediately sparked a heated debate about whether this was down to improving job prospects or rising emigration.
There was a drop of 4,200 in the seasonally adjusted numbers on the Live Register in November last month, the third month in a row the total has fallen.
However, this was offset by another 4,600 people being made redundant.
The headline Live Register figure now stands at 425,002, up around 11,500 on this time last year, but down from the peak of 466,900 in August.
The decline in the numbers signing on meant the unemployment rate fell from 13.6pc to 13.5pc, the Central Statistics Office said.
The Government jumped on the news, with Social Protection Minister Eamon O Cuiv saying it was a "positive outcome and further evidence that the Live Register is stabilising".
He also claimed that last week's National Recovery Plan would help restore growth and reduce unemployment.
However, Fine Gael enterprise spokesman Richard Bruton denied this, saying the fall was down to the "best and brightest fleeing the country".
He added: "These people are not leaving the Live Register to take up new jobs -- they are leaving the country."
A third of the reduction in the Live Register last month was amongst a small group of professionals, while over 40pc were under 25, Mr Bruton said.
The latest figures show that 65,500 people left Ireland in the 12 months to April 2010, with a 50pc rise amongst Irish nationals to 27,700.
The Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed (INOU) said anecdotal evidence suggested emigration was a key element of falling numbers, along with more people going into education.
Another major factor for the fall in numbers was the large number of people coming to the end of their one-year entitlement to jobseekers' benefit (JB) and being refused for means-tested jobseekers' allowance (JA) because they had a partner who was working. This was shown by the much sharper fall in JB claimants compared to JA claimants last month.
"That was always the experience for women, but it's hitting a lot of men in the same way now," INOU spokesperson Brid O'Brien said.
"There is simply no evidence that large numbers of jobs are being created, and you can see this in the Government's target to create just 90,000 jobs over the next four years, which is nowhere near the amount needed to bring the numbers on the Live Register down substantially," she added.
More than 4,600 people were made redundant last month, according to separate official figures.
Small business group ISME said this meant more than 210 people a day were still losing their jobs with little prospect of getting a new one.
Enterprise Minister Batt O'Keeffe said that redundancy claims so far this year were down 23pc on the same period last year, which he described as encouraging.
Bloxham stockbrokers analyst Alan McQuaid said the Live Register was now at its lowest level since December 2009.
But he noted the outlook was downbeat and that it would be mid-2011 before there was any significant improvement.