Jobless fall blamed on emigration
Emigration has been roundly blamed for the third monthly fall in numbers signing on the dole.
The unemployment rate for November dipped slightly to 13.5%, with 425,002 people on the Live Register - more than a third of these are at least one year on benefits and classed long-term unemployed.
The dole numbers are down more than 4,000 in the last month, with under-25s making up almost half the drop.
Fine Gael enterprise spokesman Richard Bruton said it was the clearest indication to date of the impact of emigration.
"These people are not leaving the live register to take up new jobs - they are leaving the country," Mr Bruton said. "These are the most outwardly mobile categories and they are leaving in droves."
The Live Register has fallen steadily since the peak in August. Although the fall suggests the jobs crisis is slowly stabilising, more than 55,000 people have been laid off this year, down from 77,000 last year, according to Government figures.
Business lobby group IVEC claimed its members were seeing jobs created every week but then admitted they had no actual figures on new employees.
Enterprise Minister Batt O'Keeffe said unemployment was still too high but the register and the reducing number of redundancies was encouraging. "These figures show that the Government's jobs plan is working and we are gradually getting our people back into the labour force as Ireland's economy stabilises," the minister said.
The continued fall in the numbers signing on has been attributed to factors including emigration, back-to-education schemes, an increase in people getting casual work and some job creation.
Willie Penrose, Labour's enterprise spokesman, backed the Opposition assessment that emigration was the real driver behind the falling register. "The truth is that there will be no increase in employment unless and until the drive to tackle joblessness is led from the top," he said.