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Jobless rate lowest since ’84

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Andrew Bushe

DUBLIN — For the 21st straight month, the number of unemployed has dropped, with the December figure the lowest since 1984.

The number of jobless fell by 1,300 in the month to bring the total to 212,500.

The yearly drop in unemployed was 31,900.

The figure would have been even better except for temporary layoffs at the Fruit of the Loom plants in Donegal.

The unemployment rate is now 7.1 percent and the government hopes the continuing high level of job creation will bring it down to about 5 percent by the end of the year.

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Meanwhile, the economy is expected to create 65,000 jobs to the end of next April, according to a labor market review undertaken for FAS, the training and employment agency.

Economist Terry Corcoran said that although there would be a slowdown in the creation of manufacturing jobs, there would still be "exceptional growth by international standards."

The survey predicts a further drop of 20,000 in the number of jobless, which will bring the unemployment rate down to 6.5 percent at the end of April.

He said the main reason for the slowdown in manufacturing sectors would be the fallout from the Asian economic crisis.

"The slowdown has come later than people expected and it probably is less dramatic than people expected," he said.

FAS employment offices have reported a 30 percent increase in job vacancies being notified to them in the year to November compared to the same time the previous year.

Corcoran said that employers are having increased difficulty in recruiting.

"There was a very, very sharp acceleration in employment growth in late 1997," Corcoran said. "By the standards of the late 1980s and the early 1990s when unemployment was extremely high and recruitment was very, very easy, companies have had to use alternative methods of both getting employees and holding onto to them."

In the year to April 1998, there were 95,000 extra at work. With retirements and other job movements there were probably another 50,000 to 60,000 jobs filled during the year, Corcoran said.

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