Irish jobless decline stalls in April

Unemployment is still expected to fall below 10% this quarter, despite fresh data showing no change in April — only the third time in two years that the jobless rate hasn’t declined on a month-to-month basis.

Yesterday’s latest Live Register figures from the CSO showed that on a seasonally adjusted basis 1,800 more people came off the register, reducing the total to 349,500. The standardised unemployment rate in April was 10%; unchanged from March.

Conall MacCoille, chief economist with Davy Stockbrokers, called the figures slightly disappointing and unexpected.

“However, purchasing managers’ indices surveys indicate that manufacturing and services sector companies are adding jobs at a rapid pace. We still expect the unemployment rate to fall into single-digit territory, below 10%, in the second quarter,” he said.

“When it finally occurs, the fall in the unemployment rate into single-digit territory will be an eye-catching moment in Ireland’s recovery,” Mr MacCoille said. He said April’s data represents the lowest number of claimants since February 2009.

According to Alan McQuaid, chief economist with Merrion Stockbrokers: “The unemployment rate remains the key indicator as far as the economy is concerned, and significant progress is being made in terms of bringing it down.”

“Assuming the economy continues to grow strongly in 2015, as we expect, an average jobless rate of 9.7% is envisaged for this year; down from 11.3% in 2014 and 13.1% in 2013. The figure at year-end is now likely to be just over the 9% level,” he said.

Meanwhile, small firms lobby group Isme gave a cautious welcome to the latest CSO figures, but suggested sustained employment growth can only come about by ongoing wage restraint on behalf of the Government, and a resistance to “a premature reversal of public sector wage cuts”.

Business minister Ged Nash said the figures show the Government is on course for its target of ‘full employment’ by 2018.

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