Number on Live Register drops to lowest level in five years

Latest figures show number of claimants falls by 1,600 in May - the 30th consecutive monthly drop


The number of people signing on the Live Register fell again last month but at a more moderate rate than previously, reflecting a possible slowdown in the level of job creation.

Figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) showed the number of claimants on the register dropped by 1,600 in May, the 30th consecutive monthly drop.

As a result, the seasonally adjusted register, which includes casual and part-time workers as well as those on Jobseeker’s Allowance, stood at 391,800 at the end of May, its lowest level in five years.

The updated figures gave rise to a standardised rate of unemployment of 11.8 per cent, unchanged from the previous month.

Though the annual decrease came from both long-term and short-term unemployment categories, the greatest decline was amongst those unemployed for less than a year.

Short-term claimants comprised 205,394 or 52.8 per cent of the total, which represented an annual decline of 24,346 or 10.6 per cent.

Long-term claimants amounted to 183,370 or 47.2 per cent of the total, representing an annual decline of 9,652 or 7.2 per cent.

The number of under-25s on the register amounted to 15.1 per cent, down from 16 in May last year and 16.8 per cent in May 2012.

Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton said that, combined with this week’s positive exchequer data, the evidence is clear that employment is returning to healthy levels and people are getting back to work.

“We have moved from a vicious circle of no investment, no growth and no jobs to a virtuous circle of economic growth, increasing employment and improving tax revenues,” she said.

Fianna Fail’s Dara Calleary, however, described as “shocking” a monthly rise of 5,100 in the number of people out of work for more than a year, and called for an urgent statement from the Government on the matter.

Economist with Davy Stockbrokers David McNamara said the figures pointed to a moderation in the pace of jobs growth in the second quarter, despite the fall in the number of monthly claimants.

The employment figures follow on from last month’s Quarterly National Household Survey, widely regarded as the most reliable set of numbers on the economy, which indicated an abrupt fall-off in job creation during the first quarter of 2014.

The survey also put the unemployment at 12 per cent, ahead of the Live Register’s headline rate.

“While emigration has been a contributory factor in bringing down the numbers on the Live Register over the past year or so, there is clear evidence that there is more to it than just that, with employment conditions in the majority of sectors in the economy generally improving in the past few months,” Merrion economist Alan McQuaid said.