Monday 18 December 2017

Number of lawyers signing on has halved in six years

The number of legal professionals receiving unemployment benefits saw a decline of 52pc Photo: Depositphotos
The number of legal professionals receiving unemployment benefits saw a decline of 52pc Photo: Depositphotos
Sarah McCabe

Sarah McCabe

More lawyers have come off unemployment benefits in the last five years than any other profession, the Sunday Independent can reveal.

Analysis of Live Register data between 2009 and 2015 shows that the number of people who identified themselves as legal professionals has dropped at a faster rate than any other profession.

A total of 1,314 members of the legal profession were in receipt of unemployment benefit at the end of 2009.

That fell to 686 legal professionals signing on by the end of 2015, a decline of 52pc.

The figures suggest strong recovery in the legal profession since the end of the financial crisis.

It was one of the industries hardest hit by the recession. A 2014 report prepared for the Law Society found that incomes for self-employed solicitors plummeted 43pc on average over 2007-2012 and by as much as 53pc in the border, midlands and western region.

One in five legal sector employees lost their jobs in the period, the report found.

Turning back to analysis of the Live Register, the construction industry saw the second-highest relative fall in the number of workers on the live register between 2009 and 2015.

The number of workers who identified themselves as coming from the construction, woodwork, metal and related industries in receipt of unemployment benefits fell from 136,433 to 66,403 between 2009 and 2015. That is a decrease of 51pc.

The sector was decimated by the recession but has since returned to strong growth mode.

Construction activity has increased every month for the past 28, according to the Ulster Bank Construction Purchasing Managers Index.

Office administration and clerical workers and retail workers also saw big falls.

The number of clerical workers in receipt of unemployment benefits fell by 27pc, while retail worker numbers fell by 15pc.

The health industry was the only one in which the number of workers on the dole rose.

The amount of people who identified as working in health and related industries rose on the live register rose from 12,777 in 2009 to 15,194 in 2015.

This was a rise of 19pc.

A spokesperson for the Department of Social Welfare said this exceptional case could be a result of the fact that many health workers are employed by the state. Public sector unemployment peaked later than private sector unemployment, in 2013, so the sector has had less time to recover and add jobs.

The total number of people on the Live Register today is 323,200.

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