There has been an annual drop of almost 15 percent in the number of people signing on for social welfare in Laois, with the end of year statistics for the county suggesting a ruddier economic bill of health than witnessed in 2015.
However, a comparison of December of 2016 to the same month in the boom year of 2006 reveals the extent of the recession locally, with close to three times as many people signing on now as there were a decade ago.
The latest figures from the Central Statistics Office reveal that there were 5,841 people signing on at the county’s three social welfare offices in Laois in December last, 3,347 men and 2,494 women.
Breaking these numbers down across the county, there were 2,979 signing on in Portlaoise (1,739 men and 1,240 women), 2,001 in Portarlington (1,113 men and 888 women), and 861 in Rathdowney (495 men and 366 women).
The latest figure is down 1,005, or 14.6 percent, from the same time the previous year, December 2015, when there were 6,846 signing on in Laois. This broke down as 3,395 in Portlaoise (2,040 men and 1,355 women), 2,492 in Portarlington (1,499 men and 993 women), and 959 in Rathdowney (579 men and 380 women).
This 14.6 percent drop is in line with the national figures. There was a total of 276,701 persons across the State signing on in December 2016, an annual decrease of 44,915, or 14 percent.
As always, a look back to the state of things a decade ago reveals that while the country has enjoyed some economic recovery in recent times there is still some way to go, with the latest figure a whopping 287 percent of what it was in the boom year of 2006, when there were just 2,034 people on the live register in December, 1,127 men and 907 women.
This broke down as 882 in Portlaoise (482 men and 400 women), 794 in Portarlington (441 men and 353 women), and 358 in Rathdowney (204 men and 154 women).