Live Register falls below 400,000 for first time since crash

Latest CSO figures indicate numbers signing on decline for 20th successive month



The number of people signing on the Live Register has fallen below 400,000 for the first time since the crash.

The latest figures from the Central Statistic Office (CSO) indicated the number of people claiming benefits dropped by 2,500 last month, the 20th successive monthly decline.

The seasonally adjusted register, which includes casual and part-time workers as well as those on Jobseeker’s Allowance, was 398,300 at the end of February.

This represented an annual decline of 30,807 or 7.2 per cent.

As a result, the country’s unemployment rate, as measured by the Live Register, fell to 11.9 per cent, its lowest level in more than four years, and below the euro zone average of 12 per cent.

Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton welcomed the figures, noting the regional spread of job creation now taking place in the economy.

“The figures are very encouraging and it shows once again a month where the Live Register is improved. As you know in January it was down by nearly 30,000 and that will be improved upon so in 12 months there are now more than 30,000 fewer on the Live Register.

“Clearly, it is still too high and we have a long way to go and we are determined to continue the process in the Action Plan for Jobs to continue to deliver to the sort of jobs growth on the scale that we’ve seen over the last 12 months.”

Mr Bruton said that one of the encouraging aspects of the job creation figures published last week was the fact that it appeared that all regions had growth and not just the main centres for foreign direct investments such as Dublin, Cork and Galway.

“What is really encouraging about the recent job numbers is that every region in the country saw job growth. For example, the south east – which has been an area of particular focus – it saw 15,000 extra people at work and a reduction in the Live Register of three points.

“There is still more work to be done but I think we are seeing a broad based recovery … we are seeing tourism recovering, food recovering…it is not just about high-tech employment – is about a broad base of sectors and the broad base that is exporting from Ireland is doing well.”

Mr Bruton re-iterated his belief that Ireland needs to look at its tax rates, saying he believed the low rate at which workers hit the high rate of income tax in Ireland remains a barrier to job creation and all parties in government were committed to removing such barriers.