The Live Register figures for August 2011 published by the CSO yesterday shows that the number of people on the Live Register is now at its highest ever level in decades, amounting to close to half a million people (469,713). A perhaps more consoling statistic shows that the percentage increase in numbers on the Live Register over the past year amounts to 0.6%, a significantly lower level of increase than that experienced over the three previous years of the Crisis era, with percentage increases of 41.9% between August 2007 and August 2008, 76.9% between August 2008 and August 2009 and 6.8% between August 2009 and August 2010. Looking across the past four years, numbers on the Live Register (based on August figures for the last four years as published by the CSO) have increased from 174,206 in August 2007 to 469,713 in August 2011, a percentage increase 169.6% over those four years.
In terms of gender trends, one interesting dimension of the August 2011 figures, when contrasted with the previous year’s figures, shows that the number of males on the Live Register fell over the past year (by 3,098, or 1.0%) while the number of females, by contrast, increased by 5,888 (3.5%). These trends were more evident in the Border-Midlands-West region, where the number of females on the Live Register increased by 5.0% (5,888 increase) while the number of males fell by 1.4% (fell by 1,255). Looking at the individual regions, gender difference in Live Register trends were most evident in the Midlands region, where the number of females on the Live Register increased by 6.7% while the number of males fell by 0.6%. The pattern of larger increases in female Live Register numbers was established over the previous year, wherein the number of females on the Live Register increased by 9.1% between August 2009 and August 2010 against a 5.6% increase in male numbers. These figures need to be put in the context of trends over the first two years of the Crisis however, which show massive increases in the number of males on the Live Register and shows the increase in male Live Register numbers between August 2007 and August 2009 to be significantly higher than female levels. The numbers of males on the Live Register increased by 182,580 (179.7%) over those two years, against an increase of 80,439 (110.8%) in female numbers. This could suggest that losses in terms of full-time employment were most keenly felt in male-dominated activities (such as construction) in the first two years of the Crisis, but that (full-time) employment losses over the past two years have been more notable within female-dominated employment sectors, such as Sales and Personal Services. Relatively higher levels of outmigration amongst males, as suggested by the recent release of Census 2011 provisional population figures, may also be a factor in terms of explaining gender differences over the past two years.
The other interesting difference that emerges relates to age and differences in Live Register numbers between the Under 25 and over 25 age cohorts. While the percentage increase in mumber on the Live Register was relatively similar for both the Under 25 (74.0%) and Over 25 (79.0%) age cohorts over the August 2008-9 period, in the past few years there has been a steady decline in numbers amongst the Under 25 age cohort (falling by 1.2% over August 2009-10 period and 6.1% over August 2010-11 period) while the numbers of Over 25s on the Live Register continues to increase (up by 8.2% over August 2009-10 period and 2.3% over August 2010-11 period). On the one hand this suggests that out-migration may be acting as a means of reducing numbers of younger people on the Live Register, on the other hand it suggests that seriously high numbers of people in the Over 25 age category remain on the Live Register, with many now being unemployed or in low-paid casual/short-term employment on a long-term basis. As the breadwinners for families will tend to come from the Over 25 age cohort, a significantly higher number of people than 380,943 over 25s currently on the Live Register remain to be effected as a result.
At the regional level, it is the regions that have experienced the greatest increases in population over the past five years (based on the 2011 Census provisional population figures) that have also experienced the greatest increases in Live Register numbers.
Table: Live Register figures comparison by region and gender between August 2007 and August 2011, based on figures published by the CSO
Table 1a: Live Register figures comparison by region between August 2007 and August 2011, based on figures published by the CSO
The region that has experienced the greatest increase in Live Register numbers over the past four years is the Mid-East region, where there is now more than three times as many people on the Live Register than there was four years ago. The next highest increase was observed for the Midlands region. Both those regions experienced significant increases in population levels over the past five years, with a 22.9 per thousand annual increase in population numbers in the Midlands and a 21.9 per thousand annual increase in population numbers in the Mid-East between 2006 and 2011, as compared with a state average of 15.5 based on the provisional 2011 Census figures published by the CSO. The combined population and Live Register figures suggests these may be the regions that need to be especially targeted in terms of future employment initiatives.
NB: The Live Register figures do not only include the numbers of unemployed, but also include part-time, seasonal and casual workers entitled to Jobseekers Benefit or Allowance.