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News : Irish Economy Last Updated: Sep 30, 2010 - 8:07:20 AM

Irish Live Register dips 5,400 in September to 442,417
By Finfacts Team
Sep 29, 2010 - 1:37:29 PM

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Source: CSO

On a seasonally adjusted basis there was a monthly dip of 5,400 in the Irish Live Register in September 2010. The number of persons on the Live Register now stands at 442,417 which represents an annual increase of 22,563 (+5.4%) in the unadjusted series. This compares with an increase of 30,198 (+6.9%) in the year to August 2010. September's data was the first monthly fall since February.

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. The total fell by 500 in April 2010 and rose to a record 439,100 in May. June saw 5,800 added, to a then new all-time record in June: 444,900. 8,500 further claimants were added in July and 2,500 in August to bring the total to a massive 455,000.

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) says other features include:

  • There was a decrease of 2,600 males and 2,900 females in the seasonally adjusted series in September.

  • The average net weekly decrease in the seasonally adjusted series in September 2010 was 1,350, which compares with a weekly increase of 625 in the previous month.

  • The standardised unemployment rate in September was 13.7%, down from 13.8% in August. This compares with 13.2% in the second quarter of 2010, the latest seasonally adjusted unemployment rate from the Quarterly National Household Survey.

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 April to June 2010, is 284,500 persons unemployed.

Live Register schemes analysis

In September there were 128,350 Jobseekers Benefit (JB) claimants on the Live Register, a monthly decrease of 16,490 (-11.4%), while the number of Jobseekers Allowance (JA) claimants decreased by 7,582 (-2.6%) to 288,425. Other registrants decreased by 434 (-1.7%) to 25,642.

In the year to September 2010 JB claims fell by 49,063 (-27.7%), while JA applications and other registrants increased by 62,745 (+27.8%) and 8,881 (+53.0%) respectively.

In September there were 39,960 new registrants on the Live Register, which compares with 36,194 in the previous month. New registrants consisted of 16,952 JB claims (42.4%), 21,276 JA applications (53.2%) and 1,732 other registrants (4.3%). The CSO said it should be noted that the number of new registrants is not the same as the overall change in the number of people on the Live Register which is affected by closed claims and the movement of people between schemes.

On average 9,990 new registrants joined the Live Register each week in September, comprising 5,905 males (59.1%) and 4,085 (40.9%) females. By comparison, in March 2010 9,935 new registrants joined the Live Register each week, consisting of 6,340 males (63.8%) and 3,595 (36.2%) females.

Source: CSO

Live Register regional analysis

There was an unadjusted monthly decrease of 24,506 (-5.2%) on the Live Register in September. This decrease was reflected in all of the eight regions, with the largest percentage decrease in the West region (-6.5%), followed by the Border region (-6.3%). The smallest decreases were in the Dublin and Mid-East regions (both -4.3%).

The unadjusted annual increase of 5.4% on the Live Register in the year to September 2010 was reflected in all of the eight regions. The largest percentage increase was in the Mid-East region (+8.0%), followed by the Midland region (+6.5%). The smallest percentage increase was recorded in the West region (+2.1%).

Live Register occupational groups

Craft and related (26.0%) was the largest occupational group on the Live Register in September, followed by Plant and machine operatives (15.7%) and Other occupation (10.9%). In March 2010 Craft and related (27.4%) was also the largest occupational group.

All of the nine occupational groups showed monthly Live Register decreases in September. The largest percentage decrease was in the Professional group (-14.0%), followed by the Clerical and secretarial group (-11.8%).

In the six months to September 2010 three occupational groups showed Live Register decreases with the largest percentage decrease in Craft and related (-3.6%), followed by Managers and administrators (-1.7%) and Plant and machine operatives (-1.2%). The largest percentage increase was in the Professional group (+12.2%), while the next largest increase was in the Associate, professional and technical group (+6.8%).

Ulster Bank economist, Lynsey Clemenger, commented:

First monthly fall in numbers on the Live Register since February…September was a better month in terms of Irish labour market developments. The latest Live Register (LR) data showed a 5,400 fall in the number claiming unemployment benefit, the firstly monthly drop since the 3,100 decline in February of this year. A notable moderation in the numbers signing on over the Feb-Apr period gave way to renewed weakness in the period May-Aug, when claimants increased by an average of 5,375. While the 449,600 total on the LR is undoubtedly elevated and indicative of a very weak labour market, and we never read too much into one month’s data, it is notable that the trend moved in the right direction in September.

Source: Ulster Bank

It is important to point out that the numbers we refer to above are seasonally adjusted, therefore they should not be impacted by usual developments in September such as students returning to college. However, in an environment of greater than usual pressure on the jobs market some problems with seasonal adjustment factors cannot be ruled out. We await the October figures for greater clarity on an improving trajectory.

… as it looks as though the unemployment rate averaged 13.7% in Q3: The Quarterly National Household Survey (QNHS) measure of the unemployment rate is the official one, which was at 13.2% on the recently released Q2 numbers. The more timely LR estimate of the unemployment rate is generally a reasonably good guide. Having increased to 13.8% by August, in line with the drop in benefit claimants there was a modest move lower to 13.7% in September. An unemployment rate of 13.7% is certainly not desirable. However, looking at the first nine months of this year the rate has risen by 0.6%. This compares with a 3.2% jump in the corresponding period of 2009. So while the situation remains weak, the rate of deterioration is clearly easing back. Taking the three months Jul-Sep together it now looks as though the QNHS numbers will show an unemployment rate of the order of 13.7% in Q3.

Notable improvement in the employment situation is still some way off...Our base case is still for a peak unemployment rate of between 13.5 and 14% by the end of the year on the QNHS numbers. However, given that a further modest uptick in the rate in coming months cannot be ruled out, the ultimate peak may end up being at the upper end of this range. Indeed, as we have pointed out previously it is our assumption of ongoing declines in the workforce, as opposed to any notable improvement in labour demand, that is driving the expected stabilisation of the unemployment rate by the end of the year.

While the lag between changes in economic activity and employment is an important factor, the export-led nature of the recovery we expect will also have implications for the near-term outlook for the Irish labour market. This is due to the export sector being significantly less labour intensive than others such as construction for example, which in turn means that it will take time before any definitive signs of improvement in the employment situation show through. Recent government announcements, as ambitious as they sound, are welcome in the context of medium-term job prospects for the Irish economy - especially given the notable rise in full-time unemployment in recent quarters.

Minister for Social Protection, Éamon Ó Cuív TD, has welcomed the drop in the Live Register figures published this morning calling the reduction "encouraging and very welcome."

The Minister said: "The drop in the September Live Register is a positive outcome and is fully consistent with what I have been saying for some months - that the Live Register is stabilising. However levels of unemployment are still very high and our over-riding priority in Government is to drive forward the process of economic recovery and to create new jobs and new opportunities to get people back to work." Healso said the drop in the figures "is not totally unexpected, as the Live Register always falls in September, mainly related to the beginning of the academic year and the opportunities in the education-related sectors."

Ó Cuív also referred to the Government’s Employment Subsidy Scheme; the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance which aims to encourage the long term unemployed to develop a business while allowing them to retain a reducing proportion of their social welfare payment. At the end of August, 6,646 people were availing of the scheme; the €169 million which is being provided by the Minister’s Department for the Back to Education Allowance for this academic year. Practical changes to ease its qualifying conditions came in to effect from Monday 19 July and the PRSI job incentive scheme for employers, which is focused on creating new jobs for people who have been on the Live Register for 6 months or more.

Davy economist, Aidan Corcoran, commented:

Figures show 5,400 fewer sign on in September

  • In seasonally adjusted terms, the numbers signing on the Live Register fell by 5,400 to 449,600 in September.

  • The estimated unemployment rate in September was 13.7%, down from 13.8% in August.

  • The fall is slight, but the peak in unemployment would normally lag the economic recovery as firms try to increase efficiency before hiring.

Labour market beginning to thaw

  • Unemployment appeared to have peaked around the start of this year but took off again in Q2.

  • The signs suggest that August's 13.8% may be the real peak in this cycle.

  • GNP, which measures output in the domestic economy, was broadly flat in Q2 – posting its smallest decline (0.3% quarterly) since the recession.

  • This suggests that GNP is now expanding, providing support for the labour market.

Long-term claimants down by 0.4%

  • The slight drop in long-term claimants, from 148,402 in August to 147,781 in September, is a welcome surprise as we expected the peak in the long-term unemployment rate to lag the peak in the general unemployment rate.

  • Although small in magnitude, the 0.4% drop provides some encouragement that the long-term unemployed may also benefit in a timely manner from an improving labour market.

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