The numbers signing on for social welfare in Laois has dropped by 14 percent in the last 12 months, although the local live register is still a staggering 273 percent what it was a decade ago.
The latest figures from the Central Statistics Office reveal that in January this year, there were 5,811 people signing on at Laois’ three Social Welfare offices, 3,346 men and 2,465 women.
This broke down as 2,999 in Portlaoise (1,749 men and 1,250 women), 1,971 in Portarlington (1,120 men and 851 women), and 841 in Rathdowney (477 men and 364 women).
This is down 970, or 14.3 percent, from the same time last year, January 2016, when there were 6,781 people on the live register in Laois, 4,074 men and 2,707 women.
This broke down as 3,388 in Portlaoise (2,022 men and 1,366 women), 2,429 in Portarlington (1,468 men and 961 women), and 964 in Rathdowney (584 men and 380 women).
The latest figure is also down slightly from the end of 2016, with a drop of 30 people from the December figure of 5,841, 3,347 men and 2,494 women.
However, a look back to the figures of a decade ago show it is unlikely the State will ever return to the halcyon time of the boom, with the current social welfare figure 273 percent what it was in 2007.
In January of 2007, there were just 2,127 people signing on in Laois, 1,182 men and 945 women. This broke down as 915 in Portlaoise (497 men and 418 women), 843 in Portarlington (474 men and 369 women), and 369 in Rathdowney (211 men and 158 women).