Hopes of economic recovery rise

The unemployment rate remained at 14.1 per cent in February, unchanged from January.

The unemployment rate remained at 14.1 per cent in February, unchanged from January.

Wed, Feb 27, 2013, 00:00

Employment figures published today give the strongest indication in half a decade that economic recovery has begun.

For the first time since the recession started in 2008, the numbers at work in the economy have risen over a six month period.

In the final quarter of the year, 1.85 million people were in jobs, a rise of 6,500 on three months earlier, according to seasonally adjusted figures from the Central Statistics Office.

Revisions to the third quarter data now show that growth was also recorded in that period. It is the first time since employment began to contract in 2008 that jobs growth has been recorded in two consecutive quarters.

This growth, combined with people leaving the jobs market, led to a decline in the numbers formally unemployed by more than 12,000 between the third and fourth quarters of last year.

The number of unemployed stood at 303,500 in the final three months of last year. That amounts to 14.2 per cent of the labour force.

The gradual decline in the unemployment rate has been on-going for a year. It peaked at 15 per cent at the beginning of 2012.

The momentum in the labour market in the second half of last year appears to have continued into 2013.

Separate figures on the jobless benefit claimant count, also published today by the CSO, show the numbers in receipt of benefits continued to fall in the first two months of the year.

In February, 428,000 people were receiving unemployment benefits on a seasonally adjusted basis. This is more than 20,000 lower than the peak figures, reached eighteen months ago.

From these figures, the CSO estimates that the unemployment rate stood at 14.1 per cent in February.

CSO figures show that 87,000 people left Ireland in the 12 months to April 2012, including 46,500 Irish nationals.

The CSO household survey on the labour market found the biggest annual increases in employment were in agriculture, forestry and fishing, up 12.1 per cent or 9,7000. The information and communication sectors were up 7 per cent or 5,400.

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