Wednesday 20 March 2019

Number of professionals signing on drops by 14pc

Anne-Marie Walsh Industry Correspondent

A TURNAROUND in the employment fortunes of professionals drove down dole numbers for the first time since February.

New official figures reveal the number of professionals signing on fell more sharply than any other group of workers last month.

Professional, clerical and secretarial workers signed off in bigger numbers than anyone else as the unadjusted figure plummeted by over 24,000.

This partly reversed the dramatic 27pc rise in the number of professionals on the live register since February, revealed in the previous month's figures.

Despite this month's drop, the number of professionals signing on is still 12pc higher than it was at the start of the year.

The latest Central Statistics Office (CSO) figures show the number of professional claimants dived by 14pc to 26,945, followed closely by clerical and secretarial workers.

Despite an overall drop in the numbers on the live register this month, bringing the unemployment rate down to 13.7pc, the number of people signing on remains at a record high.

The seasonally-adjusted live register decreased by 5,400 from August -- the first fall since February -- bringing the total number signing on to 449,600.

The unadjusted figure, which does not take account of seasonal factors including students returning to college, was down 24,506 -- the biggest drop since records began in 1967.

This is still 5pc more people than were on the register last year, when unemployment hit record levels. Although the drop in the numbers signing on since last month offers a glimmer of hope, experts warned this may be largely due to a rise in emigration as well as claimants returning to education.

A breakdown of the report showed a fall in jobless numbers across the country, with the west showing the biggest improvement. The smallest decreases were in Dublin and the mid-east, which takes in Kildare, Meath and Wicklow.

Director of the Small Firms Association, Avine McNally, said the figures were positive but the overall rise in numbers since last year showed the continuing weakness of the labour market.


She said the Government urgently needed to stabilise the business environment if there was to be any hope of retaining or creating jobs.

Chambers Ireland said that while September's live register figures fell for the first time since February, the Government must not lose sight of the stark challenges ahead.

Sean Murphy, the deputy chief executive of Chambers Ireland, said the drop may be linked to parents returning to work after the school holidays, students going back to college, and people emigrating.

"We cannot assume that such a decline will continue every month," he said.

Chief economist at Bloxham Stockbrokers Alan McQuaid said although the annual rate of increase appeared to be slowing down, that would be of little consolation to the tens of thousands who have lost their jobs during the recession

The Labour Party's enterprise spokesman, Willie Penrose, said the underlying pattern remains unchanged as virtually all of the decline could be explained by factors such as students returning to college.

"This is the 16th successive month where the live register figures have exceeded 400,000," he said.

He said the annual cost to the public purse of the extra numbers on the dole since the coalition was formed was €6bn.

Irish Independent

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