Fewer claiming unemployment benefit, says CSO
THE NUMBER of people claiming unemployment benefit fell by 2,300 last month, according to the Central Statistics Office (CSO).
A total of 437,300 people were signing on to the Live Register of welfare claimants in July, the seasonally adjusted figures show. The numbers have remained broadly stable over the past two years, but are down from a peak of 450,000 in September 2010.
The number claiming benefit continuously for more than one year was just over 200,000 in July. On an annual basis, the number of long-term claimants has risen by 10,000. Irish nationals accounted for 83 per cent of the total number of people on the Live Register.
There were just over 88,000 casual and part-time workers on the Live Register in July, equivalent to 19.1 per cent of the total.
The CSO says the best measure of unemployment is the separate Quarterly National Household Survey (QNHS), the latest of which shows that the number of people formally out of work was 309,000 at the end of the first quarter of this year.
According to yesterday’s estimates based on the QNHS, the standardised unemployment rate was unchanged in July at 14.8 per cent of the workforce when adjusted for seasonal factors.
More detailed figures from the live register, discussed below, are not adjusted for seasonal factors.
While the numbers claiming welfare have remained broadly stable over the past two years, this masks a change in the age profile of those suffering the effects of a very weak jobs markets.
Over that period the number of claimants in younger age cohorts has trended downwards, while more older people are on the dole.
As the chart illustrates, the number of people under 25 receiving unemployment benefit has trended downwards since mid- 2010. There has been a less marked decline in the 25-34 age group.
While the 35-44 age groups has been stable, there has been a sharp rise in the over 45s claiming unemployment benefit.
Small business group Isme said the latest figures show that the employment situation is worsening. Isme chief executive Mark Fielding called on the Government to halt rumoured proposals to change sick pay and PRSI rules.
“We require clear and targeted pro-enterprise policies to address business concerns, including cost competitiveness, access to finance, social welfare anomalies and public sector costs,” he said.
“Then the labour intensive SME sector will have the confidence to start investing and creating employment as it did in the 1990s, after the last recession.”
The Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed expressed concern over the rise in the number of long-term claimants on the Live Register.
“This is a deeply worrying figure” said John Stewart, co-ordinator with the organisation.
“Unemployment impacts on people in many different ways, people who are long-term unemployed face particular challenges. If you’re long-term unemployed it’s infinitely more difficult to get back to work.”