Dole lines grow as seasonal jobs dry up

Simon Brouder

The number of people signing on in Kerry jumped last month, but it is significantly less than the figure for the same period last year and well below recession levels.

The latest Live Register figures published by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) showed there were 7,606 people signing on to Kerry's in November.

That's an increase of 694 on the previous month, but it is 1,247 lower than the figure recorded in Kerry in November 2017.

Of Kerry's seven social welfare offices, only Listowel recorded a decrease with its live register falling from 1,292 to 1,263. In Tralee there was only a modest increase with the local register - which also includes claimants from the Castleisland area - going up by 50 to 3,370.

The biggest jumps came in the county's tourist hotspots. In Killarney the register jumped by 312 to reach 1,253. Dingle's register soared by 141 to reach 523, and in Kenmare the register saw a jump of 83 bringing it to 298.

Cahersiveen saw an increase of 60 to 331, and in Killorglin an increase of 77 brought the local register to 568.

While the increase is certainly unwelcome, it is not surprising and is in line with annual trends dating back almost 15 years.

Monthly live register figures for Kerry (dating back to January 2004) show that every single year, after a steady decrease in spring and early summer, the county's live register increased again from June and July onwards as many people left seasonal jobs.

This annual cycle of dips and jumps in Kerry's dole queues is reflected each year before, during and after the crash.

Typically - save for 2008 and 2009, when the economic crisis erupted - Live Register figures in Kerry reached their lowest point in August and September (after the tourist season) before steadily climbing upwards over the course of the winter and reaching a peak around April.

In recent years - post crash - this seasonal trend has reasserted itself with Kerry's Live Register typically falling by around 1,400 between April and September.

Fine Gael Senator Paul Coghlan has welcomed the general decline in the live register in recent years.

"The overall unemployment rate for the country stands at 5.3 per cent, down from 15.1 per cent in early 2012 when Fine Gael launched its Action Plan for Jobs. Even more encouragingly, we are still seeing declines in long-term unemployment across the country," said Senator Coghlan.