Unemployment rate falls to 12.3% in January

Ireland’s Central Statistics Office (CSO) has today released the latest Live Register data, covering the month of January. The release provides a timely update on trends in the Irish labour market. 

Today’s release shows that the seasonally adjusted number of people on the Register fell for a 19th successive month to 400,700 in January, which is 11% below the peak of 449,200 recorded in August 2011. The standardised unemployment rate fell for an eighth successive month to 12.3%, a level last seen in June 2009. The most recently published ‘official’ unemployment rate (taken from the QNHS) was 12.8% in Q3 2013, so the above trends suggest that this will show an improvement when the Q4 numbers are published later this month.

While the return to net job creation in the economy is undoubtedly helping to chip away at the unemployment rate (total employment rose 3.2% y/y in Q3 2013), emigration also undoubtedly remains a factor. In this regard, we note that the seasonally adjusted number of people under the age of 25 on the Register fell by 11% y/y, compared to a 6% y/y decline in the numbers over the age of 25, in January. The ratio of over-25s to under-25s on the register now stands at 5.5:1, well above the average of 4.1x seen during the 2003-2008 period. Another unwelcome figure is the high proportion (45%) of those on the Register who have been continually registered for one year or more.

Today’s release also provides details on the number of people enrolled on activation programmes which are targeted primarily at helping the long-term unemployed find work. At end-2013 there were 86,162 people enrolled on various government schemes, which is +3.2% y/y. Persons on activation programmes are not counted as part of the Live Register.

All in all, while the overall trend in the Live Register is positive, it is clear that we are still at the ‘A lot done, more to do’ phase where tackling Ireland’s unemployment problem is concerned.