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Employment up, mortgage arrears down

Ireland's unemployment rate fell sharply by 10pc in November and mortgage arrears hit a two-year low, according to data released yesterday.

The jobless rate, which has been falling steadily from an early 2012 high of 15.1pc and at a faster pace in recent months, dropped to 10.7pc last month, as the number of people claiming unemployment benefit fell for a 29th successive month.

The unemployment data showed that new jobs were mainly being taken up by those out of work for less than a year. Some 47pc of people now claiming jobless benefit have been doing so for more than 12 months, compared to 45.9pc a year ago.


"This data has a familiar feel," said Philip O'Sullivan, chief economist at Investec Ireland. "While the headline figures continue to illustrate the benefits of the economic upturn in Ireland, the recovery has not yet spread to all parts of the labour force."

The drop in the headline unemployment rate, from 10.9pc in October, chimed with a survey for the services sector that was also released yesterday. It showed that firms hired staff at the fastest rate in over eight years last month.

The Government predicts economic growth of almost 5pc this year, a rate that would likely make Ireland the best-performing economy in Europe.

Employment growth has also eased the pressure on home owners who fell into mortgage arrears after a spectacular property crash brought the banking sector to the brink of collapse and pushed the Government into a bailout.

Central Bank data showed that the proportion of home loans in arrears for more than 90 days fell to 11.2pc at the end of September, versus a high of 12.9pc a year ago.