Jobless rate drops to 12.5%, lowest in three and a half years
Number of people signing on Live Register drops for 17th successive month
The country’s unemployment rate, as measured by the Live Register, fell to 12.5 per cent last month, its lowest level in three and a half years.
In an another welcome boost for the Government, the latest figures from the Central Statistic Office showed the number of people claiming benefits dropped by 3,400 in November, the 17th successive monthly decline.
This brought the overall number of claimants down to 406,200 at the end of October, down from 409,600 the previous month, giving a standardised rate of unemployment of 12.5 per cent.
The unadjusted register, which fails to take account of part-time and seasonal workers as well as those on Jobseeker’s Allowance, was 391,507.
Over the past 12 months, the number on the register has dropped by 25,770 or 6.2 per cent.
The figures also showed the number of long-term claimants on the dole for more than a year had fallen to 179,758, as against 182,401 the previous month and 186,562 a year ago.
The unemployment rate, based on the Live Register, has declined steadily since its post-crash peak of 15.1 per cent in February last year.
The CSO’s Quarterly National Household Survey, released last month, indicated unemployment stood at 12.8 per cent in the third quarter of 2013, down from 13.6 per cent in the second quarter.
Conall Mac Coille, chief economist with Davy stockbrokers, said Ireland’s unemployment rate has now almost converged to the euro area aggregate of 12.1 per cent.
“ Live Register numbers reinforce our view that the underlying trends in the Irish economy are more favourable than suggested by the GDP data and that the economy should rebound in the second half of 2013,” he said.
Alan McQuaid of Merrion Stockbrokers said: “While emigration has clearly been a factor in bringing the unemployment figures down, there are encouraging signs on the labour market front.”
The Small Firms Association called on Government to tackle the social welfare trap and put the best interests of the Irish economy above their re-election ambitions.
Mark Fielding of Irish Small & Medium Enterprises Association said the social welfare trap was “not only acting as a disincentive to taking up gainful employment but also directly leading to increased black economy activity, which threatens the viability of legitimate businesses”.
“They are doing nobody any favours by allowing embedded high business costs and a culture of social welfare dependency to become entrenched in Irish society,” he said.