Live Register rises again as unemployment hits 13.7%

 

The number of people seeking employment assistance from the State continued to rise in July, with the Live Register jumping by 8,500 during the month and the unemployment rate rising to 13.7 per cent, its highest in 16 years.

The Central Statistics Office said the adjusted Live Register rose to 452,500 last month, with a net figure of about 1,700 more people signing on each week.

This brings the unadjusted increase in the year to July to 34,403, a rise of 8 per cent. This compares with the increase of 9 per cent, or 37,420, recorded in June.

The Live Register includes part-time workers, and seasonal and casual workers entitled to jobseekers benefit or allowance.

Minister for Social Protection Eamon O'Cuiv defended the unemployment figure - which has more than doubled over the last two years - saying it would reverse in the Autumn.

“The Government is very concerned at the difficulties households are facing because of unemployment and the creation of new jobs is our top priority,” he said.

Tánaiste Mary Coughlan moved to ease the jobs crisis for young people by adding an additional €12 million to the Labour Market Activation Fund.

Ms Coughlan said the cash injection will support education and training programmes for at least 5,000 additional unemployed people and will bring the total number of participant places supported by the fund to over 11,000 this year.

“We put the Activation Fund in place to stimulate innovation in the provision of training and activation measures for jobseekers seeking to up-skill and get back into work,” she said.

Casual and part-time workers made up about 16.9 per cent of the total Live Register in July, accounting for 79,072. A year earlier, this figure was only 16.1 per cent, with 69,553 casual and part-time worker signing on.

The rise in the Live Register was reflected across the occupational groups, with the largest percentage increase in the professional group, which saw a 12.3 per cent increase. It was a similar story in the six months to July 2010, when the professional category rose by 22.8 per cent.

The number of people claiming jobseekers' benefit was 2.5 per cent higher during the month, with 149,728 on the Live Register. Applications for jobseekers' allowance rose 3.2 per cent to 291,594.

Those seeking jobseekers' benefit fell by 47,260, or 24 per cent, in the year to July 2010, but job seekers allowance applications and other registrants rose by 32.9 per cent, or 72,131, and 59.7 per cent, or 9,532, respectively

More women than men were added to the register during July, with an additional 3,900 males and 4,600 females signing on.

NCB economist Brian Devine said the figures were discouraging.

"Not only is the headline data not encouraging neither is the flow data," he said. "Although not seasonally adjusted, which likely biases the numbers upward, the inflow data reveal that the new signings on to the Live Register has risen to its highest level since January 2010. New signings on totaled 60,187 versus an outflow of 46,245 for a seasonally unadjusted increase of 13,942. The inflow in January was 64,765."

Ibec said the rise in the numbers signing on reflected ongoing weakness in the domestic economy.

IBEC senior economist Fergal O'Brien said the second quarter of the year had been disappointing for the labour market. "The latest increase in the Live Register highlight the tough trading conditions that firms operating in the domestic sector continue to face," he said.

"The scale of the domestic economy, in money terms, is down by one quarter since the start of the recession and there are not yet solid signs of recovery."