The latest Live Register data from the CSO show another reduction in the numbers signing on during July.
The seasonally adjusted number of people on the Register fell by 3,400 this month (a 25th successive monthly decline), bringing the total to 382,800, which is 66,100 or 14.7% below the peak of 448,900 that was reached in August 2011. The standardised unemployment rate fell by 10bps m/m to 11.5%, its lowest level since April 2009.
This improvement reflects a number of factors. Total employment in the Irish economy has increased in each of the past six quarters for which we have data (to end-Q1 2014), while the employment indices across all three Purchasing Managers’ surveys for Ireland suggest that this trend has been maintained since then. Other factors contributing to the persistent declines in the Live Register include emigration – we note that the ratio of over-25s to under-25s on the Register increased once more in July to 5.75:1, having stood at 5.44:1 at the end of 2013 – and those returning to education.
Long-term unemployment remains a major problem, with today’s release showing that 46.6% of those on the Register have been on it for more than one year. Tackling this remains a key priority for policymakers and, in this regard, we note that the number of people enrolled on activation programmes that are primarily targeted at helping the long-term unemployed back into work stood at 65,709 in June 2014, down from 66,564 (-1.3% y/y) in the same month of last year. Persons on activation programmes are not counted as part of the Live Register.
All in all, there is a familiar feel to this release, with many of the same trends we have noted for the past 18 months or so remaining intact – while the improvement in the Irish economy is creating more opportunities for people to find work, the rising tide has so far failed to lift all boats, with significant challenges in terms of youth and long-term unemployment remaining.
Philip O’Sullivan www.Investec.ie