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News : Irish Economy Last Updated: Sep 13, 2013 - 10:49 AM

Irish Economy 2013: Burton claims dramatic fall in jobless numbers; Fact or fiction?
By Michael Hennigan, Finfacts founder and editor
Sep 12, 2013 - 5:46 AM

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Irish Economy 2013: Joan Burton, minister for social protection, on Wednesday afternoon released confidential Central Statistics Office data to show an ostensibly dramatic weekly drop in jobless claimant figures. While the raw data presented can be accepted as a fact, the spin-line is more a fiction.

Meanwhile, the Local Economic and Employment Development (LEED) Programme of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in a report published today, calls for reform of Ireland's State jobs support services.

Irish Economy 2013: OECD calls for reform of Ireland's jobs support services

Burton told a press conference in Dublin on Wednesday: "Ireland is now firmly in recovery mode," having broke some good news earlier Wednesday at a Cabinet meeting. "I have just got the figures for the Live Register this week, it's fallen by 7,700."

The minister added: "That's a very good outcome, so really we are on the road slowly but surely."  

The reality isn't all that it seems.

Ministerial spin is aided by the fact that individuals in publicly funded activation programmes such as training courses for the unemployed; the Back to Work Enterprise allowance scheme for the self employed; JobBridge work placements; community work schemes and Back to Education Courses, are not counted on the Live Register.

In July 2003 there were almost 64,000 in activation programmes including 12,000 on education courses. Apart from individuals in full time education and training, about 45,000 would likely be counted as being employed.

The Back to Education Allowance (BTEA) is not paid during the summer months when many of the BTEA beneficiaries would return to the Live Register.

In April 2013 the number on activation programmes was 86,000 including 33,000 in Back to Education courses. So a big chunk of Burton's 7,700 fall last week relates to people moving from the Live Register to Back to Education public allowances.

The cost comes from the same purse!

In September 2012, the total number on the Live Register fell by 27,000 compared with the previous month. There was no change when the data was seasonally adjusted.

The number on activation programmes jumped by 15,000.

Emigration, current activation programmes and likely a ramp up in short-term work schemes coupled with a rise in real jobs, will be part of the story behind ministerial bragging about headline jobs numbers, between now and the next general election, that is due by 2016.  

It appears that no journalist challenged Burton at Wednesday's press conference.

Nevertheless, it takes a brass neck to imply that the actual monthly job creation rate is currently over 30,000 --  compared with 27,000 a year ago or zero when seasonally adjusted!  

Enda Kenny, taoiseach, also referred to jobs in Wednesday, at Google's headquarters in Dublin. He said that 630 net jobs are being created weekly. This comes from the CSO's most recent Quarterly National Household survey [pdf]. Half the new jobs were in 'Self employed (without employees)' and 'Assisting relative' while some of the rest relates to underestimating in an earlier period.

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