Unemployment rise slows for first time in two years

The unemployment crisis appears to have peaked after official figures today revealed the first fall in people signing on for almost two years.

The numbers applying for benefits fell by 16,000 in September bringing the Live Register total to 423,639.

Much of the drop was linked to schools and colleges re-opening, and taking that seasonal factor into account the Central Statistics Office said only 600 more people signed on in the last month.

The unemployment rate was 12.6%.

Willie Penrose, Labour’s enterprise spokesman, warned there should be no grounds for complacency.

“There must be a fear that the figures will begin to rise again as we enter the winter months,” he said.

“Renewed emigration may also be a significant factor in the drop in the numbers signing on.”

Business lobby group Ibec said falling numbers were a welcome relief but warned it was most likely due to emigration.

Senior economist Fergal O’Brien said: “But it is far too early to conclude that the labour market will not shed further jobs in the coming months.”

Ibec also noted that September saw the Government Employment Subsidy Scheme start offering a €250m fund to protect 27,400 jobs.

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