Dole drop is due to brain drain -- not job creation
FALLING unemployment is due to emigration, retirement and people going back to education rather than more people finding a job.
The number of people out of work has fallen from 14.8pc to 14pc, but this is mainly down to fewer young people in the market for employment.
New Central Statistics Office (CSO) figures show there were 295,700 people out of work in the first three months of the year, down by 3,300 since unemployment peaked at 299,000 in the second half of last year.
Jobs Minister Richard Bruton said that while the decline in the unemployment rate was welcome, the CSO figures showed the scale of the challenge in getting people back to work, which was the aim of his reform proposals.
"Emigration is now draining our country and our economy of some of our best and brightest people and we must do everything we can to create opportunities for them to stay here and contribute to our recovery." he said, during a trade mission to the US aimed at drumming up IT jobs.
The CSO figures show there has been a striking surge in job losses in the hotel and restaurant sector, with over 21,000 jobs lost in the last year, making it crucial the Government's jobs strategy bears fruit in coming months.
However, seasonally-adjusted unemployment is down from 317,900 in the final quarter of 2010 to 295,700 in the first three months of 2011, as an expected surge in jobless figures in the new year did not materialise, the CSO's Quarterly National Household Survey found.
However, there are more than 53,000 fewer people working than the same time last year, with the total in employment down to 1.8 million.
The number in the labour force -- which also includes those looking for a job -- has dropped by nearly 33,000 in the last year to 2.1 million, and the CSO noted the drop is most pronounced amongst people in their 20s and early 30s.
Demographic changes, including emigration, would account for around 12,200 of the fall, but CSO analyst Padraig Dalton said they would not know exactly how big a role emigration played until the Census results were out.
The situation contrasts with the years up to 2008, when inward migration was adding 60,000 more people to the workforce each year.
Around two-thirds of the fall -- 20,000 people -- would be down to lower participation in the labour force, whether through retirement, study or people simply bowing out of the job hunt.
However, Bloxham Economist Alan McQuaid criticised the CSO figures as misleading, saying the sharp rise and fall in the unemployment rate over six months raised questions about how the seasonally- adjusted figures were being calculated.
The Irish Business and Employers Association said while the figures showed job losses were stabilising, long-term unemployment was becoming a serious problem.
Meanwhile, one in five children is now growing up in a home where nobody is working, up from one in eight in 2005.
The average time out of work is now more than 20 months -- twice what it was two years ago, although that reflects the fact many of those out of work in 2009 had only just lost their jobs during the period of sharpest recession.
People aged between 25 and 44 have been hardest affected by unemployment, accounting for 58pc of the total in the first quarter of 2011.
Unsurprisingly, building jobs have been worst hit, with 67,000 job losses since 2005, followed by wholesale and retail, where over 25,000 jobs have gone.