THE number of people signing on in Laois rose again in the past year, according to the latest official figures.
Central Statistics Office figures showed that to the end of September there were nearly 8,400 on the live register compared with 7,541 at the end of last year. Last month’s figures come at the end of a bad summer in Laois which saw numbers claiming benefits jump beyond 4,000 in Portlaoise alone. The biggest rate of increase was found in Portlaoise was nearly 4,000 people are on the signing on at the town's social welfare office. The number rose by 16 per cent on last year. In Portarlington there are more than 3,300 signing on compared to just over 3,000 last year. In Ratdowney the number claiming welfare is 1,129 which is almost the same as last year. There is some relief in the figures compared to the August signing on rates. Nearly 8,700 were signing on in Laois at the end of the summer. Of these more than 4,000 were registered in Laois. Just over 8,900 were signing on in Offaly at the end of September which is up on the 8,000 who were signing on in the faithful county last year.