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.

  Males     Females     Total    
  Aug-07 Aug-11   Aug-07 Aug-11   Aug-07 Aug-11  
Border 14352 41950 192.3% 10611 24767 133.4% 24963 66717 167.3%
Midlands 7056 22230 215.1% 5604 13057 133.0% 12660 35287 178.7%
West 9784 26924 175.2% 7500 16618 121.6% 17284 43542 151.9%
Dublin 27046 72876 169.5% 16522 40103 142.7% 43568 112979 159.3%
Mid East 8164 28136 244.6% 6324 16974 168.4% 14488 45110 211.4%
Mid West 8777 25809 194.1% 6638 15662 135.9% 15415 41471 169.0%
South East 12628 38670 206.2% 9656 22120 129.1% 22284 60790 172.8%
South West 13785 40258 192.0% 9759 23559 141.4% 23544 63817 171.1%
                   
State 101592 296853 192.2% 72614 172860 138.1% 174206 469713 169.6%
BMW region 31192 91104 192.1% 23715 54442 129.6% 54907 145546 165.1%

Table: Live Register figures comparison by region and gender between August 2007 and August 2011, based on figures published by the CSO

  Aug-07 Aug-11  
Border        24,963        66,717 167.3%
Midlands        12,660        35,287 178.7%
West        17,284        43,542 151.9%
Dublin        43,568      112,979 159.3%
Mid East        14,488        45,110 211.4%
Mid West        15,415        41,471 169.0%
South East        22,284        60,790 172.8%
South West        23,544        63,817 171.1%
       
State      174,206      469,713 169.6%
BMW        54,907      145,546 165.1%

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.

Adrian Kavanagh

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