Economist claims jobless rate has peaked

Despite the first rise in the number of dole claimants in five months, a senior economist still believe the country’s jobless rate may have peaked.

The latest Live Register figures showed that in April there was an increase of 100 in the numbers of people claiming the dole compared to March. The total stands at 436,000. The unemployment rate remains unchanged at 14.3%, up from 14.2 in Apr 2011.

The number of male claimants decreased by 9,337 (-3.3%) to 277,408 over the year and female claimants decreased by 233 (-0.2%) to 152,593.

Alan McQuaid, an economist with Bloxham, pointed out that the March/April data can “at the best of times” be affected by the timing of the Easter holidays in a given year.

“The seasonally adjusted Apr 2012 Live Register figure was still 2,400 lower than the February total of 438,400,” he said. “It does appear as though the labour market has stabilised or at least the rate of increase in the numbers signing on has slowed sharply.”

Mr McQuaid said there was cause for worry, however, in the number of long-term dole claimants.

The number of long-term claimants was 184,053, an annual rise of 14,633 or 8.6%.

“This rate of increase in long-term claimants has been slowing over the last 12 months or so with an annual rise of 57,597 (+55.9%) having been recorded in Jan 2011.”

Economists have warned that, despite the drop in dole claimants over the last few months, emigration is playing a big part in keeping the numbers signing on down, a view echoed by Mr McQuaid.

“There is unlikely to be any significant improvement on the jobs front until the economy starts to grow again on a sustained basis,” he said. “Still, recent economic trends/data have been encouraging, suggesting that the jobless rate may have peaked.”


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