Number of benefit claimants falls by 25,700 in past year

There are 25,700 fewer people claiming benefits compared with Nov 2012, according to the latest Live Register figures.

The figure included a 5.2% decrease in over-25s and an 11.1% fall in youth unemployment.

Figures included 81,489 casual and part-time workers entitled to extra allowances — a fifth of those signing on.

There were 40,421 new registrants for different allowances and benefits in November On average, some 4,279 men and 3,806 women joined the Live Register each week of the month, with some movement between schemes.

Conall Mac Coille, chief economist with Davy stockbrokers, said that Ireland’s unemployment rate has now almost converged to the euro area aggregate of 12.1%.

“Live Register numbers reinforce our view that the underlying trends in the economy are more favourable than suggested by the GDP data and that the economy should rebound in the second half of 2013,” he said.

The Small Firms Association called on the Government to tackle the social welfare trap and put the best interests of the economy above their re-election ambitions.

“They are doing nobody any favours by allowing embedded high business costs and a culture of social welfare dependency to become entrenched in Irish society,” said acting director Avine McNally.

“While it is positive to see a reduction in under-25s on the register, more needs to be done. This reduction is being influenced by emigration. Active labour policies are only part of the solution in reducing youth unemployment.

“A strong commitment and focus on education, growth and recovery is vital to ensure young people have future careers in Ireland.”

The Irish Small and Medium Enterprises (Isme) association urged politicians to centre the post-bailout plan on improving the SME business environment.

CEO Mark Fielding said: “In addition, the social welfare trap is not only acting as a disincentive to taking up gainful employment but also directly leading to increased black economy activity, which threatens the viability of legitimate businesses.”

The CSO’s Quarterly National Household Survey, released last month, indicated unemployment stood at 12.8% in the third quarter of 2013, down from 13.6% the second quarter.

Meanwhile, Siptu representatives will meet Pfizer management tomorrow.

The pharmaceutical giant is axing 150 jobs in Newbridge, Co Kildare, as a result of increased competition. In 2010, Pfizer announced it was making 275 workers redundant at the same site.

Organiser Frank Jones, who represents about 70 workers, said the cuts will have a devastating effect on the Newbridge area.

“The timing and phasing of these job losses is particularly of concern,” he said. “We believe that the pool of workers who will accept a voluntary redundancy package has been exhausted.”


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