Unemployment remains at 5.3% as ‘dark cloud’ of Brexit looms

CSO figures for unemployed fell to 127,300 in January, but participation rates still low

Unemployment is expected to fall below 5% this year. Photograph: Alan Betson

Unemployment is expected to fall below 5% this year. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

The Republic’s jobless rate remained steady at 5.3 per cent for the second consecutive month in January.

While there have been several upward revisions to the State’s jobless rate, the overall trend has been downward, in keeping with the growth in employment.

The rate for January was the lowest recorded since February 2008 and is almost three points below the euro zone average.

The latest official numbers from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show the seasonally adjusted number of people unemployed fell by 600 between December 2018 and January 2019 to 127,300, and was down 13,400 year on year.

On current trends the State’s jobless rate will fall below five per cent this year, a rate which several agencies here equate to full employment.

However, participation rates, particularly for women, remain lower than at the peak of the boom or by international standards.

“Expectations of unemployment falling below five per cent this year will hopefully be met sooner rather than later, but the dark cloud of uncertainty of Brexit looms large as a threat,” Pawel Adrjan, economist at recruitment website Indeed, said.

The Department of Finance recently warned that the unemployment rate could rise by two per cent in the event of a no-deal Brexit, where the UK would crash out of the EU without an agreement.

Separate CSO figures show manufacturing production was nearly 19 per cent lower on an annual basis in December principally on account of a decline in the “modern” sector, which is dominated by so-called big pharma companies.