Unemployment rate hits new six-year low of 9.8%

New CSO data series suggests State’s jobless rate is at lowest level since January 2009

Unemployment has to fallen to a six-year low of 9.8 per cent, according to a new series of monthly unemployment estimates from the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

The figures suggest the seasonally adjusted number of people classified as unemployed fell by 300 to 209,700 last month, which represents the lowest level recorded since January 2009.

It was also the 25th consecutive monthly fall, if January last year, when the total remained unchanged, is excluded.

The CSO figures also point to an annual decrease of 40,500 or 16.2 per cent.


The estimates replace the CSO’s Standardised Unemployment Rate (SUR) as the definitive measure of monthly unemployment, which was previously published alongside the Live Register.

The new estimates are primarily based on the Quarterly National Household Survey, which put the State's jobless rate at 9.9 per cent in the first quarter of this year, but take into account changes to the Live Register.

The figures for May show youth unemployment here was 20.2 per cent compared with 20.7 per cent 12 months ago. The unemployment rate for men, meanwhile, was 11 per cent compared with 8.3 per cent for women.

A separate report from Eurostat indicated the Republic recorded the third largest drop in unemployment among EU states in the past year, behind Spain and Lithuania.

The report said unemployment here fell from 11.8 per cent to 9.7 per cent in the 12 months to April, with the EU average also coming in at 9.7 per cent.

The discrepancy between Eurostat’s rate and the CSO’s was put down to differences in the methodology used to calculate the rate.

Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton said significant progress has been made in reducing the numbers of people unemployed from well over 300,000 people in the first quarter of 2012 when the Action Plan for Jobs was launched to 209,700 today.

However, he cautioned that there is still a long way to go before full employment is achieved, and major challenges must be overcome in order to sustain the rate of job-creation and unemployment-reduction that we have seen up to this point.

Isme, the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association, welcomed the reduction in the unemployment but the Government that its “continued failure to address rising business costs” was hindering jobs growth .

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy is Economics Correspondent of The Irish Times