Live Register Showing long-term Figures Decreasing

The number of long-term claimants on the Live Register in July 2014 was 188,670 which is down by 4.5 per cent (8,901) in the number of long-term claimants. This may seem like good news; however, these people may be availing of new job scheme initiatives which exclude them from the live register. 

Often the live register is interchanged and confused with the unemployment rate, and here’s why.

The live register is an administrative count of people entitled to certain types of social welfare payments and as such is not a measure of unemployment. The Quarterly National Household Survey (QNHS), which uses definitions from the International Labour Organisation to define those who are unemployed as people willing and available to work not having one hour’s paid work in the week (prior to the survey), is the official measure of unemployment in Ireland. The live register is different because under some circumstances you are entitled to some payments even if you have worked. 

According to the Central Statistics Office (CSO) the Live Register is not designed to measure unemployment.  It includes part-time workers (those who work up to three days a week), seasonal and casual workers entitled to Jobseeker’s Benefit (JB) or Jobseeker’s Allowance (JA).  Unemployment is measured by the Quarterly National Household Survey and the latest estimated number of persons unemployed as of the first quarter of 2014 was 258,100 compared to the live register’s figure of 404,515.

According to Paul Crowley, senior statistician with the CSO, live register data is used to measure the standardised unemployment rate where the number of people on the live register is trended forward with the QNHS data to predict unemployment rates. However, the official unemployment rate is measured by the QNHS. The fact that live register data is available monthly and QNHS data is only available on a quarterly basis, hence a hybrid of both is often used (standardised unemployment rate).

Mr Crowley explains that the live register at the moment is an administrative count totalling up numbers form each local office. The data that is used to compile live register figures is not as granular as QNHS when it comes to households; however, it is available very quickly after month end.

“We do say again and again that it is not an official source of unemployment, it does however provide indicators very quickly where as the QNHS at the moment comes out on a quarterly basis and is not available until two months after the reference quarter, so while it is the official source of data it is timely at the moment.

“We publish the standardised unemployment rate to try and give a measure of unemployment using live register data, which is an estimate based on live register data and QNHS data. It’s not the official source but it does give you a timely indication.”

One disadvantage of the live register as an employment indicator, explains Mr Crowley, is that it is affected by seasonality. “The thing about the live register in particular is that it is fairly affected by the seasonality because you get people signing on during the summer when they are in a down period of their job. They may go back to school or their job in the autumn. So unadjusted (seasonality) figures go up and down a lot; the adjusted figure tries to trend that out and get an underlying movement.”

Live Register new registrants

There were 34,645 new registrants on the Live Register in July 2014, consisting of 14,975 Jobseeker’s Benefit (JB) claims, 17,557 Jobseeker’s Allowance (JA) claims and 2,113 ‘Other Registrants’. Males accounted for 43.4% (15,053) and females 56.6% (19,592) of all new registrants. On average 3,763 male and 4,898 female new registrants joined the Live Register each week of the month. The difference between the number of new registrants on the Live Register and the change in the total number on the Live Register is accounted for by closed claims and movements between schemes. 

In July Irish nationals accounted for 83.5% (337,575) of the number of persons on the Live Register. Of the 66,940 non-Irish nationals, the largest constituent group on the Live Register was nationals from the EU15 to EU28 States (36,399), followed by the UK (15,173).

Craft and related (19.4%) remained the largest occupational group1 on the Live Register in July, despite the fact that the number in the group fell over the year by 14,458 (-15.6%) to 78,342. The second largest annual percentage decrease was in the Professional group (-8.9%).