Irish unemployment falls to lowest level since 2009

 

The number of people signing on last month fell to just over 390,000.

Official figures showed 5,000 fewer people claimed benefits in November when the unemployment rate fell to 12.5 per cent, its lowest since July 2009.

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) said the number of long-term claimants on the dole for more than a year had also fallen to 179,758.

The Live Register showed there were 25,700 fewer claiming benefits compared to November 2012. The figure included a 5.2% decrease in over-25s and 11.1% fall in youth unemployment.

Figures included 81,489 casual and part-time workers entitled to extra allowances - a fifth of those signing on.

There were 40,421 new registrants for different allowances and benefits in November

On average, 4,279 men and 3,806 women joined the Live Register each week of the month, with some movement between schemes.

Conall Mac Coille, chief economist with Davy stockbrokers, said Ireland's unemployment rate has now almost converged to the euro area aggregate of 12.1%.

"Live Register numbers reinforce our view that the underlying trends in the Irish economy are more favourable than suggested by the GDP data and that the economy should rebound in the second half of 2013," he said.

The Small Firms Association called on Government to tackle the social welfare trap and put the best interests of the Irish economy above their re-election ambitions.

"They are doing nobody any favours by allowing embedded high business costs and a culture of social welfare dependency to become entrenched in Irish society," said acting director Avine McNally.

"While it is positive to see a reduction in under-25s on the register, more needs to be done. This reduction is being influenced by emigration.

"Active labour policies are only part of the solution in reducing youth unemployment.

"A strong commitment and focus on education, growth and recovery is vital to ensure young people have future careers in Ireland."

The Irish Small and Medium Enterprises (Isme) association also urged politicians to centre the post-bailout plan on improving the SME business environment.

Chief executive Mark Fielding said: "In addition, the social welfare trap is not only acting as a disincentive to taking up gainful employment but also directly leading to increased black economy activity, which threatens the viability of legitimate businesses."

The CSO's Quarterly National Household Survey, released last month, indicated unemployment stood at 12.8% in the third quarter of 2013, down from 13.6% the second quarter.

PA

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