Number on Live Register falls


The number of people signing on to the Live Register fell in the year to December, and the standardised unemployment rate also declined slightly, the Central Statistics Office said today.

The seasonally adjusted figures for December show 443,200 people signed on last month, a fall of 3,300 compared with November's figures. In December 2010, there were 446,000 people on the register.

On an unadjusted basis, a total of 434,784 people signed on in December, representing a fall of 2,295 over the year, or 0.5 per cent.

The standardised unemployment rate now stands at 14.3 per cent, a slight fall from 14.4 per cent in November. The average rate of unemployment for the year was 14.2 per cent, compared with 13.7 per cent in 2010.

The Live Register does not measure unemployment but  also takes into account casual and part-time workers, which represented about 20 per cent of the total number of people signing on, or 86,815 people, last month.

Long-term unemployed – those on the register for more than a year – totalled 180,798 in December, with the figure rising by 16.4 per cent on an annual basis.

"Encouragingly, the number of long-term claimants on the Live Register has stabilised in recent months," said Davy's David McNamara.

"However, this figure is still up on December 2010 by 25,474 with 180,798 persons unemployed for more than one year in December."

Bloxham chief economist Alan McQuaid said the overall figures were betther than in recent months, but warned part of the reason for that was emigration.

"Many young Irish people are either staying on/returning to education or moving abroad to avail of significant job opportunities in the likes of Australia and New Zealand," he said.

"The Government is well aware that there is no easy fix to the unemployment problem, and things are unlikely to improve on the jobs front until the economy starts to grow again on a sustained basis. And with the global economy slowing down, the labour market is expected to remain under pressure for some time to come. All in all, we think it will be a slow process in bringing the jobless rate down. We are looking for only a marginal fall in the average unemployment rate this year to 14.0 per cent."

The Irish Small & Medium Enterprises Association (Isme) called on the Government to introduce its previously announced Jobs Initiative immediately to address the “horrendous” unemployment situation.

“Targeting unemployment requires more than PR generated lip service, a couple of training schemes and the ‘hopeless and harmful’ reliance on emigration to somehow weather the storm,” said Isme chief executive Mark Fielding. “Real and coherent jobs policies are badly needed, instead of the sector being constantly hit with state influenced rising costs, increased bureaucracy and ‘mad cap’ mandatory sick pay proposals.”

Calls for action were echoed by the Small Firms Association, which said the ability create jobs was being damaged by rising business costs, uncertainty in the economy and limited access to credit.

"Until adequate credit flow returns to the business sector, investment will also remain weak. There is a clear need for the Government to now prioritise these issues to stop further job losses in 2012," said assistant director Avine McNally