Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 31 July 2014

Unemployment rate falls to 13.4%

Ireland's unemployment rate has fallen slightly to 13.4%, the fourth month in a row it has come down

The unemployment rate has fallen slightly to 13.4%, the fourth month in a row it has come down, official figures revealed.

The total numbers signing on the dole have dropped by about 20,000 over the last year to 435,280, a fall of 4.6% over the 12 months.

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) report said there are 196,808 long-term unemployed.

The unemployment rate, based on the live register, has shown a steady decline since February last year, but the figures are masked by high levels of emigration and limited periods people are able to sign on.

Joan Burton, Social Protection Minister, claimed the figures show the Government is making progress in getting people back to work.

"The economic chaos which this Government inherited on taking office meant there was a very real risk that the Live Register would exceed 500,000. We stabilised the economy as a first priority and the results are now being seen," she said.

Ms Burton accepted the figures were still too great but welcomed reports that the long-term unemployment crisis is easing to some degree, with figures from last month showing it is down 1% to 8.1%.

"Although those numbers remain far too high, real progress is being made, and getting people back to work will remain the Government's number one priority," she said.

The number of people who have been unemployed for over a year stands at more than 196,000.

A report in the last week, also from the CSO, estimated that 89,000 people had emigrated from Ireland in the year to April - 50,900 of them were Irish and more than 40,000 were under the age of 24.

Davy stockbrokers said the unemployment report revealed 45% of those signing on for benefits have been unable to find work for at least one year.

But the total on the regis ter is at its lowest since mid-2009.

Elsewhere, Davy noted that the CSO report is showing up skill mismatch in the labour market as one fifth of the long-term unemployed were construction workers.

It pointed to a 10% fall in the number of under-25s signing on as evidence that emigration was the answer for lack of work.

The Irish Small and Medium Enterprise association said any progress in the jobs crisis was being hindered by an " unfit-for-purpose" social welfare system and high business costs.

Siptu, the country's largest trade union, said the report showed increasing problems for women trying to find work while there is no clear indication of how much influence emigration is having.

"There is a consistent decline but it is not clear whether the bulk of those leaving the Live Register are emigrating or are going into training or employment," the union's economist Marie Sherlock said.

"Despite net employment rising for four consecutive quarters, last week's CSO figures show that the numbers emigrating are continuing to grow, not fall, and hit 89,000 over the 12 months to April 2013 - the highest outflow since the crisis began in 2008."

Ms Sherlock noted that the number of women on the register increased in June and has since come down by just 1,500, narrowing the gap to the number of males signing on.

"We will be looking to the Budget 2014, which will be announced next month, to see if additional measures can be put in place to ensure that more people can exit the Live Register and go into meaningful training, education or work," she said.

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