The number of dole claimants has dropped below 400,000 for the first time since 2009, but a significant drop in young claimants has prompted speculation that emigration may be the reason for the overall decline.
The drop in the total number of people on the Live Register to 396,500 in October means the unemployment rate now stands at 13.2%, the fifth month in a row that it has fallen. The number of dole claimants was 23,660 lower last month than in Oct 2012.
The figures from the Central Statistics Office show that in the year to October, the number of over-25-year-olds claiming the dole declined 16,324, or 4.7%, while the number of under-25s fell 7,336, or 10.5%.
The higher rate of decline in the number of young claimants led commentators to speculate that was due to those people deciding to leave Ireland in the hope of making a life elsewhere.
The Irish National Organisation for the Unemployed said emigration was an “important factor” in the fall in the numbers on the live register, influenced not only by the lack of sufficient job opportunities but by the poor prospects to the employment that is available.
However, Conall Mac Coille of Davy Research said that while emigration may have pushed down on the unemployment rate in the second half of 2013, it was not the only reason.
“The decline in the Live Register is also consistent with positive readings from the employment component of the IBEC Business Confidence and PMI surveys,” said Mr Mac Coille.
“These surveys also point to further jobs growth. Furthermore, the number of participants in government-sponsored activation programmes was up by just 2,500 in the year to September compared with the 23,660 annual decline in the Live Register.
“So today’s Live Register data provide further evidence that employment growth in the Irish economy has continued into the second half of 2013.”
That sentiment was echoed by Social Protection Minister Joan Burton, who said that while emigration was a “worry and concern”, the September CSO figures showed 33,800 extra people in employment.
Another positive was a further decline in long-term claimants — those claiming the dole for more than a year. The total number of people in that category now stands at 182,401. A slight resurgence in the construction sector has contributed to the number of male long-term claimants falling by 7,457 or 5.6% in the last year.
However, the number of women on the register for more than a year actually increased by 1,741 or 3.2%.
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