Unemployment falls again in December

Live Register is now at a three and a half year low as unemployment drops to 12.4% and closes in on EU average of 12.1%

Unemployment fell back again in November, down to 12.4 per cent. Photograph: Aidan Crawley/The Irish Times

Unemployment fell back again in November, down to 12.4 per cent. Photograph: Aidan Crawley/The Irish Times

Wed, Jan 8, 2014, 15:58

The unemployment rate fell again in December, dropping back to 12.4 per cent from 12.5 per cent the previous month, as 3,300 fewer people signed on the Live Register. The rate is now at its lowest since May 2009, and,following 18 consecutive monthly decreases, has significantly improved from a peak of 15.1 per cent reached in February 2012.

According to the Central Statistics Office (CSO), there were 3,300 fewer people on the Live Register in December when compared with November. On an annual basis, 395,411 people signed on the Live Register in December, or 402,800 on a seasonally adjusted basis, a reduction of 28,322, or 6.7 per cent, on the previous year.

“While emigration has been a contributory factor in bringing down the numbers on the Live Register, there is clear evidence that employment conditions in most sectors of the economy have generally improved in the past few months,” Alan McQuaid, economist at Merrion Capital said, adding that he expects the level of unemployment to continue to fall over the course of 2014 down to 12.2 per cent.

Most of the decrease in December was accounted for by males, with 2,400 fewer males signing on during the month, compared with 900 females. On an annual basis, the number of male claimants fell by 24,165, or 9 per cent, to 245,721, while female claimants decreased by 4,157, or 2.7 per cent, to 149,690.

The number of long term claimants in December 2013 was 179,621, down by 4 per cent on the previous year, although Mr McQuaid noted that this was still “too high for comfort”. Male claimants accounted for the decline, falling by 6.6 per cent, while there was actually an increase in the number of female long-term claimants, up by 2.2 per cent in the year to December 2013.

Casual and part-time workers accounted for 20.6 per cent of the Live Register in December 2013, compared with 20.8 per cent one year earlier . In the year to December 2013 the number of casual and part-time workers decreased by 6,687 (-7.6 per cent), with the number of males decreasing by 4,155 (-8.6 per cent) and the number of females decreasing by 2,532 (-6. 3 per cent).

In December, Irish nationals accounted for 82.7 per cent (326,934) of the number of persons on the Live Register. Of the 68,477 non-Irish nationals, the largest constituent group on the Live Register was nationals from the EU15 to EU28 States (38,221), followed by the UK (15,201).

Taoiseach Enda Kenny welcomed the reduction in the unemployment rate but said the State still had “a long way to go” on the jobs front.

Speaking in Abu Dhabi today, where he is leading an Enterprise Ireland trade mission, Mr Kenny said the fall in the numbers claiming unemployment benefits to 12.4 per cent, some 402,000 on a seasonally adjusted basis, was welcome but there was still some way to go.

“A seasonally adjusted 402,000 is the lowest since 2009,” he said. “The more important figure, the unemployment rate, is down to 12.4 per cent and that’s significant but it’s still too high.”

Mr Kenny said he was taking part in the trade mission with a view to finding investment to “grow Irish jobs”.

“This year we want to see a real push. The more jobs we have the better for the economy and the better for our people. It’s heading in the right direction and I’m happy to note that but we still have a long way to go.”

Figures also disclosed today by Eurostat, show that unemployment remains at a record high across the Euro Area at 12.1 per cent. The lowest unemployment rates were recorded in Austria (4.8%), Germany (5.2%) and Luxembourg (6.1%), and the highest in Greece (27.4% in September 2013) and Spain (26.7%). The figures note that Ireland has recorded the largest decrease on an annual basis.