The Live Register has recorded another big monthly drop in the number of people signing on as conditions in the labour market continue to improve.
Figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show the number of claimants fell by 2,800 in February to stand at 276,000, the lowest level since 2008. This follows a drop of 3,500 in January.
While the Live Register is not a measure of unemployment, as claimants can work part time, it is good barometer of the health of the labour market.
Separate CSO figures, published earlier in the week, put the State’s headline rate of unemployment at a post-crash low of 6.6 per cent.
In unadjusted terms, the latest Live Register numbers in February stood at 275,093, an annual decrease of 44,356 or 13.9 per cent.
The figures show the number of men signing on fell by 30,372 (16 per cent) in the year to February while the number of women on the register dropped by 13,984 (10.8 per cent).
They also reveal the number of long-term claimants fell by 19,222, or 21.1 per cent, on an annual basis to 117,048.
The CSO noted the number of people on various job-activation programmes was 69,559 as of January, a fall of 10,671 (13.3 per cent) from the previous year, when there were 80,230 people in activation programmes. People on activation programmes are included in the overall Live Register numbers.
Minister for Jobs Mary Mitchell O’Connor said the regional breakdown for the latest Live Register shows a reduction of at least 10 per cent in the numbers claiming benefits in all counties.
“We’ve seen the largest declines to date this year in Border, Midlands and South East counties which is very good news,” she said.
“ Cumulatively, that’s evidence of real and substantial progress. It shows the Government and my department’s focus and efforts on job creation, particularly in regions, is paying off,” she said, while noting there was no room for complacency.