Drop in claimants ‘hides impact of emigration’

The number of people claiming unemployment benefits fell last month, but the number of long-term claimants has increased over the same period last year.

Some 430,900 people signed on the Live Register in December — a drop of 1,400 from November.

The seasonally adjusted figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) showed a monthly drop of 1,800 males on the dole and an increase of 400 females.

Despite the slight drop the standardised unemployment rate of 14.6% remained unchanged from November.

Chambers Ireland chief executive Ian Talbot said an increase in tax receipts, a boost in retail sales and Ireland’s success in meeting its troika targets all helped confirm that Ireland was on the right track.

“We cannot afford to ease up on the continued public sector reform programme needed to get the country back on its feet permanently,” Mr Talbot said.

The latest CSO figures also showed the number of long-term claimants on the Live Register — which includes unemployed, part-time and casual workers — increased slightly from the same period last year.

The number of people claiming benefits for longer than a year rose by 6,346 to 187,144 in December.

The majority of those signing on — 55.8% — were short-term claimants.

Trade union Siptu warned the statistics hid the impact of emigration.

Economist for the organisation Marie Sherlock said an exodus of around 8,000 craft workers from the Live Register accounted for almost three-quarters of the fall in numbers signing on during 2012. She said many of those had presumably left the country.

Ms Sherlock said two out of three people who came off the register were aged under 25, suggesting many of them went on to back-to-education schemes.

“The real test will be to retain these workers at decent rates of pay and conditions,” she said.

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