Jobless rate dips to lowest since April
THE number of people on the dole is at the lowest level in six months.
Figures from the Central Statistics Office yesterday revealed the jobless rate eased slightly last month, with 442,200 people signing on for benefits last month -- down 5,400 on August.
But the crisis of long-term unemployed continues, with 183,399 people now drawing unemployment benefits for at least a year.
Despite the long-term figures Jobs Minister Richard Bruton yesterday struck an upbeat tone, saying the country could be at the beginning of a "fragile" recovery.
"However, we have an enormous job of work to do if we are to turn these tentative beginnings into a genuine recovery that will make a real difference to the many thousands of people affected by unemployment and emigration," he said.
The latest Live Register figures show 5,400 fewer people signed on last month than in August, with the unemployment rate falling from 14.4pc to 14.3pc. The register is at its lowest level since April, when 441,600 people signed on.
Some 3,000 fewer men applied for benefits last month, while the number of women dropped by 2,400. The number of women applying for benefits over the year jumped 2,834 to 155,453, while the number of men languishing on the dole dropped by 7,810.
But the rate of long-term claimants continued to increase over the year, rising from 33.4pc of the unadjusted live register figure -- which includes seasonal casual workers -- in September 2010, to 41.9pc last month.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny hailed the drop as "genuinely good news" for the country.
But the Irish Congress of Trade Unions said the figures showed that austerity measures were not the way to get the economy back on track.