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Unemployment rate revised sharply lower to 4.6% – CSO

The Central Statistics Office has sharply revised downwards unemployment rates for March and April, taking the level below 5% for the first time since the financial crisis over a decade ago.

Monthly unemployment rates have been subject to sharp revisions in recent quarters.

The CSO said today that the jobless rate in April had been revised down to 4.6% from the 5.4% previously estimated.

The change was as a result of a big rise in employment, with the CSO reporting that employment jumped by 3.7%, or 81,200 people, on an annual basis in the three months to March.

This compared with a 2.3% increase in the previous quarter.

The CSO’s Labour Force Survey figures – the official source of data for employment and unemployment – also reveal that unemployment decreased by 18,600, or 14%, in the year to the end of March.

This brought the total number of people who were without a job to 114,400 and marked the 27th quarter in succession where unemployment has declined on an annual basis.

Today’s CSO figures also show that long term unemployment, which refers to those people without a job for one year or more, accounted for 35.7% of total unemployment in the first quarter of the year.

Meanwhile, today’s figures show the total number of people in the labour force in the first quarter of 2019 stood at 2,416,300, an increase of 2.7% over the year.

The CSO said this compares with an annual labour force increase of 1.4% the same time last year.

Today’s figures show that the number of people not in the labour force stood at 1,480,200, an increase of 0.7% over the year.

The Labour Force figures also show that jobs growth has been broad based across construction (5.3%), industry (3%) and services sectors (4.5%).

Full-time employment was up 3.5% on the year, and employee jobs were up 5.3% on the year.

The CSO noted that female employment was up 5% on the year, associated with a sharp rise in the female participation rate from 62.3% to 64.3% over the past 12 months.

Commenting on today’s figures, the Minister for Finance and for Public Expenditure and Reform said they confirmed the strength of the country’s labour market.

“Today’s figures confirm that the labour market is no longer in a recovery phase and that we are now zeroing in on “full-employment”, as evidenced by the fact that the unemployment rate of 4.6% is the lowest since end-2005,” Paschal Donohoe said.

Full employment is where just about everyone who wants a job has one, putting upward pressure on wages.

Mr Donohoe said that while full-employment in the country is a welcome outcome, it also presents challenges for policy and he said policies that overheat the economy must be avoided.

“This means ensuring that the labour market remains open and flexible in order to support growth in jobs and living standards, while protecting our international competitiveness,” he said.

He said that greater participation in the labour market by those currently outside should also be encouraged. and policies that foster improvements in productivity are being prioritised.

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