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News : Irish Last Updated: Feb 23, 2010 - 4:47:45 AM

Irish Live Register: Rises 3,300 to 426,700 in December; 133,577 added in 2009; Unemployment rate still set to peak in summer 2010
By Finfacts Team
Jan 8, 2010 - 12:30:04 PM

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Source: CSO

Irish Live Register: The seasonally adjusted Live Register total increased from 423,400 in November to 426,700 in December, an increase of 3,300, according to the CSO.  In 2009 there was an unadjusted increase in the Live Register of 133,577(+46.1%). This compares with an increase of 119,642 (+70.2%) in 2008. The unemployment rate still set to peak in summer 2010.

January of 2009 has represented the spike in claimant increases in any month, with a record 33,000, or 11.3%, rise - - 26,700 additions in February, 20,000 in March; 15,800 in April; 13,500 in May; 11,400 in June; 10,500 in July; 5,400 in August and 600 in September.

The total fell 3,000 in October. and rose 900 in November.

There was an annual increase of 88,273 (+45.4%) in the number of males on the Live Register in 2009 and a corresponding increase of 45,304 (+47.5%) in the number of females.

Other features include:

The monthly increase in the seasonally adjusted series consisted of an increase of 2,900 males and 500 females.

The average net weekly increase in the seasonally adjusted series in December 2009 was 825, which compares with a weekly increase of 4,000 in December 2008.

The standardised unemployment rate in December was 12.5%. This compares with 12.4% in the third quarter of 2009, the latest seasonally adjusted unemployment rate from the Quarterly National Household Survey.

In the month, the estimated number of casual and part-time workers on the Live Register was 39,493males and 34,506 females.

The CSO says the Live Register is not designed to measure unemployment. It includes part-time workers (those who work up to three days a week), seasonal and casual workers. The Quarterly National Household Survey shows the latest seasonally adjusted figure, for July to September 2009, is 270,800 persons unemployed.

Source: Goodbody

Goodbody economist Deirdre Ryan commented:

Live Register rate of increase falls to 15 month low...
Similar to the numbers for the previous two months, the latest Live Register shows only a modest change in the month of December. The total number rose 3,300 in the final month of 2009 bringing the total number of persons signing on the Register at the end of last year to 426,700. This was an increase of 46% compared on the December 2008 level, the slowest pace of increase in 15 months.

...but some exceptional factors at play
While monthly data can be volatile, taking the final quarter as a whole provides a more insightful picture. In the final quarter of the year the Register rose by just 1,200 persons, relative to close to a 16,000 increase in Q3. However, a reduction in the labour force, and in particular increasing outward migration, has been the single biggest factor contributing to the stability in the unemployment rate. The fact that a number of claimants may be exhausting their benefit entitlements (unemployment assistance may only be received for one year in certain instances) and therefore are removed from the Register once this occurs is also playing a role in the moderating rate of increase, although this is difficult to quantify.

Unemployment rate stable at 12.5% at year end...
According to today’s Live Register the unemployment rate stood at 12.5% in December, up slightly from 12.4% in November. This compares with 12.4% as reported by the QNHS for Q3. The unemployment rate remained relatively unchanged in the final months of the year and the end year rate is well below rates expected at the beginning of 2009.

..but further slight rise in store for the year ahead
While further job losses are anticipated in the year ahead (we are forecasting a 4.7% decline in employment in 2010, -8.4% for 2009), these data indicate that the unemployment peak is edging closer and may even come in slightly below our 14.1% forecast.

Source: Goodbody

Davy chief economist Rossa White commented:

Number of claimants up most in four months; unemployment rate still set to peak in summer 2010

The Live Register rose the most since August last month. The monthly increase was 3,300 or 0.8%. But the pace of increase has slowed sharply since July, when it was still running at over 10,000.

  • The estimated unemployment rate nudged higher to 12.5% from 12.4%. To gauge the extent of the improvement in H2 2009, it is worth noting that the unemployment rate had officially reached 12.4% by August (according to the Quarterly National Household Survey). That compares with a rate of 8.5% at end-2008 and 4.8% at end-2007.

Claimants levelling off for three reasons

  • The number of claimants has been levelling off for three main reasons. First, the pace of firing has moderated since Q2 2009. Second, emigration has accelerated, although this effect should not be exaggerated (the decline in net migration has been caused more by collapsing immigration). Third, many people left the Register because they didn't qualify. You automatically join the Register on application but roll off if not qualifying. There was an administrative backlog of claimants awaiting decision by mid-2009, some of which gradually cleared during H2.

Unemployment rate likely to peak below 13.5% in Q2

  • January and February will be worth watching for the last run of layoffs in construction and retail. This may not be quite as bad as some commentators suggest.
  • We expect claimants to rise very slowly in H1 before peaking in early summer. The unemployment rate is likely to peak below 13.5% in Q2 2010.

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