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Live Register at six-year low as unemployment falls


Jobs Minister Richard Bruton; live register figures have fallen to a six-year low

Jobs Minister Richard Bruton; live register figures have fallen to a six-year low

Jobs Minister Richard Bruton; live register figures have fallen to a six-year low

The number of people on the Live Register has fallen again, with 39,000 fewer people signing on in December than a year earlier.

With another 3,300 people coming off the dole in December alone, the unemployment rate is now down to 10.6pc, which compares with 13.1pc a year ago and 15.1pc at the height of the recession.

There are now 356,112 people signing on the Live Register. Encouragingly the number of long-term unemployed fell by nearly 15,000 in the year to 164,796, new Central Statistics Office figures show.

Jobs Minister Richard Bruton welcomed the new figures, which he said represented 37 consecutive months of a decline in Live Register figures.

"Every person who leaves the Live Register into employment saves the Exchequer approximately €20,000 per annum in reduced social welfare expenditure and increased tax revenue, and helps to create a reinforcing cycle of positive economic benefits," he said. Over 140,000 people had left the Live Register to take up jobs over the last year, and the numbers signing on had fallen in every region of the country, he noted.

"Every job created is a life changed, a family improved and a community enhanced," he said.

The Live Register is at its lowest level since February 2009 and there was clear evidence that employment conditions were improving in most sectors, said Merrion stockbrokers economist Alan McQuaid.

Unemployment was "now back below the Eurozone average of 11.5pc and is likely to continue falling in 2015", and the Government's goal of getting unemployment below 10pc this year should be realised if this positive momentum continued, he said.

The CSO report shows that three times as many men as women left the Live Register in 2014, though there are still 216,339 men signing on compared to 139,773 women.

The number of building sector workers signing on fell fastest, by 15pc in the year. However, that still remains the biggest occupational sector, accounting for one-in-five of those on the Live Register.

The sales sector, meanwhile, saw an 11pc drop in the numbers signing on.

Some 72,362 casual and part-time workers are included on the Live Register, as they are able to claim benefits for the days they are not working.

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Another 86,160 people are taking part in back-to-work schemes such as JobBridge and Fas training, which is up marginally since 2013; however, these are not included in the Live Register total.

The Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association said that small firms could deliver an extra 60,000 jobs this year if the Government created a better business environment by cutting employers' PRSI rates and tackling social welfare traps.

"Government must manage wage expectations and maintain focus on stability and growth, while staying within its spending targets," said ISME chief executive Mark Fielding. He also called on them to "attack the scourge of ever-increasing black economy activity".

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