Figures show slowdown is more widespread

Commenting on today's CSO Live Register figures, IBEC senior economist Fergal O’Brien said the economic slowdown is affecting more than just the construction sector.

The latest economic data from the Central Statistics Office suggest that the figures showed a seasonally adjusted increase of 7,600 in May, while the industrial sector also weakened in the month of April.

Mr O'Brien said: "There was a fairly even split between the increase in the number of males and number of females joining the Live Register. This indicates that the economic slowdown is now affecting a much broader range of businesses than just the construction sector.

"The total number on the Live Register has now increased by 30% in just 12 months, while the number of males has gone up by 38%.

"The regional disparities in the labour market trends are still evident in the most recent data. In Dublin, the number on the Live Register has increased by 22% in the past year, while in the Midland region, the increase has been almost double that at 40%."

Mr O’Brien also said industrial output is also weakening, with the latest CSO data showing that "output declined by 1.3% in April compared to the same month last year".

"Output from the manufacturing sector is up just 2% in the first four months of the year. The ‘modern’ sector was ahead by 3.8% but output from the traditional sector was down 2.2%.

"The beverages sector has been particularly weak in the early months of the year and this is one of the main reasons for fall in output from the traditional sector - it is also no surprise to see that industries related to the construction sector have seen some contraction.

"There has been a mixed performance from the chemical sector with output of basic chemicals down 8% in the most recent quarter, while pharmaceuticals output was up almost 30%.

"Overall the performance of the industrial sector has been fairly muted in the early part of this year and is unlikely to contribute significantly to economic growth in 2008," he said.

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