This morning sees the release of the official Live Register data for February. The seasonally-adjusted Live Register fell 2,300 in the month to 400,700 in January, its lowest total since May 2009. Furthermore, it was the nineteenth monthly decrease in a row. <p>

With the big drop in the numbers signing on, the unemployment rate fell to 12.0% in January from 12.1% in the two previous months. Having hit a crisis high of 15.1% in February 2012, it has since then started to decline steadily, a sign that the labour market is on the road to recovery, though the jobless rate still remains a lot higher than desirable. <p>

If the recent improving trend is maintained over the course of 2014 we could be below 11.0% come year-end. The unemployment rate remains the key indicator as far as the Irish economy is concerned and steady progress is being made in terms of bringing it down. Although the recovery path for the labour market won’t entirely be smooth, we do think that the level of unemployment will continue to fall over the course of 2014. <p>

It does appear as though the jobless rate has peaked, and we are now looking for it to fall back to 11.5% on average this year from 13.1% in 2013, which itself was the lowest level since 2009. <p>

Looking at the February figures, a monthly drop of 2,200 in the numbers signing on, to 398,500 is envisaged. This would push the jobless rate down to 11.9%.
<p><h5>Alan McQuaid</h5>


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