Unemployment now at 6.1%, down 19,100 compared with last year

Analysts say youth unemployment at 12.5% is still far too high and needs Government focus

A queue for unemployment benefit outside Bishop Street Social Welfare Office in Dublin. Photograph: Frank Miller /	THE IRISH TIMES

A queue for unemployment benefit outside Bishop Street Social Welfare Office in Dublin. Photograph: Frank Miller / THE IRISH TIMES


The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for March was down almost one percentage point compared with the same period last year, the latest figures from the Central Statistics Office show.

The rate for last month was 6.1 per cent, unchanged from the revised rate in February, but down from 7 per cent in March 2017.

The number of people unemployed in March was 144,400, down from 146,300 when compared to the February figure, and a decrease of 19,100 when compared to March 2017.

Conall MacCoille, an economist with Davy, said the unemployment rate is likely to fall below 6 per cent in the coming months on the back of recent manufacturing PMI surveys, which point to continued strong hiring.

At Merrion Stockbrokers, economist Alan McQuaid noted the rate was nearly a 10 percentage point improvement on the peak unemployment rate of 15.9 per cent in December 2011 during the financial crisis. It is almost two-and-a-half points below the current euro zone average of 8.5 per cent.

“Although emigration has been a factor to some degree in keeping unemployment down since the financial crisis, the labour market has improved dramatically over the past few years, reflecting the strengthening of the economic recovery,” Mr McQuaid said.

“Indeed, the most recent migration estimates showed net inward migration of 19,800 in the year to April 2017 as against net inward migration of 16,200 in 2016, and the highest net inflow since 2008.”

Youth unemployment

On youth unemployment, Mr McQuaid said the rate “remains elevated”, although it is down from 17.5 per cent in March 2016. “The bottom line is that youth unemployment is still far too high,” he said.

“The Government needs to put particular focus on getting this rate down into single digits as quickly as possible,” he said. “However, the problem is that a lot of these people need upskilling or retraining into areas where work is available, and that won’t happen overnight.”

In March 2018, the unemployment rate was 6.4 per cent for men, down from 6.5 per cent in February and down from 7.3 per cent in March 2017.

The unemployment rate for women in March was 5.6 per cent, down from 5.7 per cent in February and down from 6.6 per cent on the same period last year.

The number of men unemployed in March was 83,100, down from 84,400 in February. The number of women unemployed was 61,300, a decrease of 500 when compared to February.

The unemployment rate for people aged 15-24 years was 12.5 per cent in March, a decrease from 12.7 per cent in February.