Live Register falls by 6,900

 

The number of people signing on to the Live Register fell in January, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) said today.

The seasonally adjusted figures, which take account of seasonal and calendar effects, showed a monthly fall of 6,900 people on the register, which includes part-time workers, seasonal and casual workers entitled to jobseekers benefit or allowance.

On an unadjusted basis, that number increased by 5,600 in the month.

The CSO said the standardised unemployment rate fell to 13.4 per cent in January, down from 13.6 per cent in December.

A total of 442,677 people signed on to the register during the month, an annual increase of 5,741, or 1.3 per cent. This compares to a rise of 13,484 people, or 3.2 per cent, in the year to December 2010, and a rise of 33.9 per cent in January a year earlier.

"While the number of people on the register did increase over the month the level of increase was less than the increase recorded in January in the previous three years. As a result, on a seasonally adjusted basis there was a monthly decrease of 6,900 on the register in January 2011," the CSO said.

There was a monthly decline of 6,400 in the number of men signing on, while women showed a fall of 600. However, more casual and part-time workers were added to the register over the year, with the number rising by 8.3 per cent, or 6,369, to 83,232.

Fine Gael's enterprise spokesman Richard Bruton the figures showed a solid core of long-term unemployed workers has emerged.

"Latest figures show that long-term unemployment increased by 5 per cent in the year to January, an increase of 57,595. Some 36 per cent of all people on the live register have now been out of work for more than a year," he said. “Ireland’s unemployment crisis is crying out for a targeted solution."

Labour spokesman for enterprise, trade and employment Willie Penrose said figures would have been higher if emigration had not resumed.

"Nothing summarises the dismal failure of this Government as much as their record on unemployment," he said. "Apart from the huge social damage caused by unemployment, such huge numbers on the Live Register represent an enormous financial drain on the Exchequer."

Bloxham's chief economist Alan McQuaid said underlying trends were improving, but this was possibly more to do with increased immigration and lower labour force participation than a pick-up in job prospects.

"In overall terms the outlook for employment remains fairly downbeat in the immediate future, with the numbers on the Live Register still extremely high. Indeed, we are only a month into 2011 and the news of job losses in well known companies makes fairly bleak reading," he said.

"A pick-up in the labour market tends to lag recovery in output/GDP by six to nine months, so it is likely to be the latter part of this year at the earliest before there is any real sign of underlying improvement in employment conditions."

He said further job cuts in the construction, financial services and retail sectors looked "inevitable" in the short-term, and warned the austerity measures announced in the Budget are unlikely to improve consumer confidence or personal spending.

Director of the Small Firms Association Avine McNally warned against becoming complacent.

“Jobs will return when confidence returns to the domestic economy. The common agenda must be to promote economic growth, to adopt the right policies to ensure that growth comes with jobs, and to increase labour market efficiency to allow a better match between demand and supply. Job creation must be at the heart of the recovery policies,” she said.

Separately, new figures from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation showed the number of redundancy claims received in January fell by 25.5 per cent compared with the same period last year.

The department noted that no emerging trend could be identified as the severe weather meant December figures were low, and January figures were higher due to delayed claims from the month before.

The Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association called for the political parties to make job creation and retention a top priority.

“What is urgently required is a clear and targeted policy to include employment maintenance, and job creation, moving individuals from the dole queue back into employment," said Isme chief executive Mark Fielding.

"This policy will only succeed as part of overall pro-enterprise policies, specifically aimed at the labour creating SME sector. If the proper platform is in place, including availability of credit and a competitive environment free of excessive bureaucracy, SMEs will create and sustain jobs, which will get us out of this unemployment hole."