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News : Irish Last Updated: May 10, 2010 - 6:43:52 AM

Irish Live Register total fell 500 to 432,500 in April; Unemployment rate was 13.4%
By Finfacts Team
May 7, 2010 - 11:51:31 AM

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Source: CSO

The seasonally adjusted Irish Live Register total fell from 433,000 in March to 432,500 in April, a decrease of 500. The standardised unemployment rate in April was 13.4%.

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) says that in the year to April 2010 there was an unadjusted increase in the Live Register of 50,781 (+13.3%). This compares with an increase of 65,918 (+17.9%) in the year to March 2010.

January of 2009 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; rose 900 in November and another 3,300 were added in December, to bring the end 2009 total to 426,700.

Other features include: There was a decrease of 1,500 males and an increase of 900 females in the seasonally adjusted series in April. The average net weekly decrease in the seasonally adjusted series in April 2010 was 100, which compares with a weekly increase of 150 in the previous month.

The standardised unemployment rate in April was 13.4%. This compares with 13.1% in the fourth 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 41,713 males and 37,396 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 entitled to Jobseekers Benefit or Allowance. Unemployment is measured by the Quarterly National Household Survey and the latest seasonally adjusted figure, for October to December 2009, is 281,700 persons unemployed.

Goodbody chief economist, Dermot O'Leary, commented:

A number of recent Irish data releases have given hope that the Irish economy is at last turning the corner. Today's retail sales release for March tells a similar story.

Best quarter since Q4 2007... - In line with other data showing an improvement in the consumer spending environment recently, today’s release confirms that retail sales grew by 1.1% yoy in Q1. This is the first time since Q4 2007 that we have seen annual growth in retail sales. Excluding the motor trade, sales volumes were still down by -2.9% yoy in Q1 but there has been an improvement in this trend over recent months.

...with core sales growing for three months in a row - After declining for nine of the twelve months in 2009, core sales increased for the third consecutive month in March, with a gain of 0.6% mom recorded (following 1.0% and 0.5% in February and January, respectively). On an annual basis, core sales fell by 1.2% in March, representing the slowest rate of decline since April 2008

Price cuts helping in some areas - Significant price cutting can be credited for some of this pick-up in spending. For example, while retail sales volumes in the department stores grew by 6%, the value of sales was still down by 6%. There was also growth in more discretionary spending categories: sales of furniture and lighting were up by 6% yoy in Q1, while sales of electrical goods were up by 4% yoy. Deflation has been apparent in these areas also. Bar sales though still fell by 13% in volume terms in the quarter, despite deflation taking hold.

Unemployment rate stable for four months - The other piece of Irish data released this morning is the Live Register for April. While we feel that this is becoming a less relevant indicator of the labour market as the labour force shrinks, it should be noted that the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 13.4% for the fourth consecutive month.

Turning the corner? There have been a number of different indicators, including car sales, sentiment surveys and tax returns released recently that suggest that the economy has, at the worst, stabilised. One should not forget about the drags such as further fiscal consolidation and their effect on the economy, but it is becoming clear that the fear-induced spending strike in 2009 eased significantly at the beginning of 2010. In terms of our forecasts, we did assume an increase in retail sales in Q1 due to easy base effects, but we do recognise that barring a negative impact from the ongoing crisis in Europe overall, the risks to our 2% consumption forecast are to the upside.

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