Drop in number of long-term unemployed is 'encouraging'
Unemployment in Ireland reached a seven-year low during October as the number of people unemployed across the country dropped to 203,000.
The rate of unemployment dropped below 9pc to 8.9pc for the first time since 2008. Year-on-year in the period from July to September the number of people employed grew by 56,000.
Finance Minister Michael Noonan said that the levels of unemployment are now beginning to resemble those at a pre-crash level.
"The unemployment rate for October has been revised downward to below 9pc, comparable to levels last seen in December 2008. Moreover, the observed solid declines in long-term unemployment are particularly encouraging," Minister Noonan said.
Wholesale and retail trade, which also includes the repair of motor vehicles, was one of two sectors which reported a decline in the number of people employed.
Speaking about the figures, Thomas Burke, director at Retail Ireland, said that while the results cover a broad category they may reflect the fact that the retail sector was the last to show signs of recovery.
"It's difficult to say in this early stage but what those numbers might reflect is that lag in terms of our own sector and I suppose it's a difficult position that many retailers are in," he said.
"Retailers have seen their cost base hold steady over the years with declining sales and that's led to, in some cases, a lack of power to invest in their business, and indeed a lack of ability to grow employment in their business."
While Mr Burke said that employment figures in retail can be quite seasonal he said that some companies are cautious of going on employment drives. "It's difficult for certain retailers to go on any sort of a large-scale recruitment drive given the very difficult five or six years that they've experienced, and it may take a little bit longer for that confidence to return," he said.
Overall in the third quarter of the year employment grew by 11,600 when compared with the three-month period ending in June.
The quarter ending in September of this year became the 13th consecutive quarter to experience a reduction in unemployment on an annual basis. So far this year unemployment has fallen by 42,500.
Meanwhile, the long-term unemployment rate has fallen to 5pc from 5.5pc. The total number of people who have been unemployed for one year or more stands at 109,800, a reduction of 8,800 when compared to last year.
However, long-term unemployment still accounts for over half of overall unemployment. In Q3 it amounted for 54pc of overall unemployment.