Live Register figures fall again

 

The number of people claiming unemployment benefits has fallen for the second month running.

According to the latest Central Statistics Office (CSO) data, there were 439,200 people signing on the Live Register on a seasonally adjusted basis in February, down 1,700 on the previous month.

Despite the decline in the claimant count, the rate of unemployment remained unchanged at 13.5 per cent, just below the a recessionary high of 13.6 per cent recorded in the second half of last year.

The small monthly decrease of 1,700 was  made up of a monthly decrease of 2,000 men and an increase of 300 women, and follows a larger decrease of 5,800 in January.

Separate figures, released today, also showed a significant fall in the number of redundancies notified to the Department of Enterprise in February. The department was informed of 3,134 redundancies last month, down 44.2 per cent on the figure of 5,612 recorded in the same month last year.

In the first two months of 2011, the total of redundancies notified to the department was 8,016, a decrease of 34.2 per cent on the figure of 12,183 in January and February last year.

Overall, the Live Register has fallen by 10,000 on a seasonally adjusted basis since its peak in August/September last year. However, the figures indicate there has been a 52 per cent - or 56,080 - increase in the levels of long-term  unemployment over the last year.

The figures showed the numbers of claimants rose by 7,343 or 1.7 per cent during the 12 months to February, compared to an increase of 84,503 or 24 per cent in the year to February 2010.

The number of female claimants increased by 6,404 or 4.4 per cent over the year, while the number of male claimants increased marginally by 939 or 0.3 per cent.

The number of casual and part-time workers on the Live Register increased over the year by 5,770 or 7.3 per cent to 85,059 over the year.

Bloxham chief economist Alan McQuaid said labour demand weakness is expected to persist over the next twelve months, with the recovery in the jobs market forecast to lag that of output.

Following an estimated fall in employment of 4 per cent in 2010, a further drop of just under 1 per cent is projected for this year, Mr McQuaid said, with some additional significant job losses expected, most notably in the financial and construction sectors.

"The employment outlook for this year is in line with the view that although the merchandise export sector will perform well in 2011, it tends to be less labour intensive than other sectors," he said.

The Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association (Isme) called on the incoming government to urgently address what it described as the “calamitous” unemployment problem in the country.

 “The new era in politics requires real action rather than rhetoric, serious action to restore our low levels of confidence, badly damaged competitiveness and international reputation," said the group’s chief executive, Mark Fielding. "The incoming government must propose and implement a long overdue action plan for the economy’s future, without delay, with job maintenance and creation at the very top of the list."