Numbers on dole fall to lowest level in four years
THE number of people signing on the Live Register has fallen by more than 11,000 in the past year and the unemployment rate is the lowest it has been in almost four years.
The latest Central Statistics Office (CSO) figures reveal further welcome news on the jobs front, with the unemployment rate down to 13.7pc compared with 14.9pc a year ago. This means it is the lowest it has been since August 2009.
A total of 421,737 people signed on for unemployment benefit in May, which compares with 433,000 a year earlier.
When adjusted for seasonal factors, the numbers signing on fell by 700 between April and May. Nearly all the jobless fall has been among men.
However, there was bad news in that the number of people out of work long term increased by 3,268 in the year to 192,000, or 45.5pc of the total signing on.
One in five people on the Live Register – about 88,000 in total – are casual or part-time workers who sign on for days they are not working.
There are another 86,000 people who are on various government back-to-work, training and internship schemes who are not counted on the Live Register – with the number of these rising by 5pc in the past year, the CSO reported.
The number of young people aged 25 and under signing on, meanwhile, fell by 5,833 in the past year. Youth unemployment has been falling constantly since July 2010, but the main reason for this is believed to be emigration and people staying on in college.
The Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association (ISME) said while the seasonal fall in unemployment was welcome, high business costs, overly generous welfare payments and the black economy were still undermining jobs growth.
"The slight reduction in the headline unemployment figures masks the true level of unemployment, which is under-reported through increased emigration, increased participation on state initiatives and a significant rise in individuals remaining in education," said ISME CEO Mark Fielding.
"The true picture is that well over half a million of our citizens are out of work," he said.
Merrion Stockbrokers' Alan McQuaid said the figures were encouraging, on top of employment growth of 20,500 in the past year, which was revealed last week. "The signs are that slowly but surely labour market trends are getting better, though it is likely to be a number of years before the jobless rate is back in single digits," he said.