The number of people signing on for social welfare has dropped by 14.5 percent in the last 12 months, but the latest number is still more than double what it was back during the Celtic Tiger year of 2007.
According to the latest figures from the Central Statistics Office, there were 5,883 people on the live register in Laois in July, 3,197 men and 2,686 women. This broke down to 2,948 in Portlaoise (1,630 men and 1,318 women), 2,138 in Portarlington (1,148 men and 990 women), and 797 in Rathdowney (419 men and 378 women).
The latest number is down 999, or 14.5 percent, from the same time last year, with 6,882 people signing on locally in July 2016, 3,871 men and 3,011 women. Breaking this down across the different areas, there were 3,494 signing on in Portlaoise (1,971 men and 1,523 women), 2,379 in Portarlington (1,320 men and 1,059 women), and 1,009 in Rathdowney (580 men and 429 women).
The July figure for this year is slightly up on the previous month, when there were 5,807 people signing on at the county’s three social welfare offices in June, 3,233 men and 2,574 women. This broke down to 2,917 in Portlaoise (1,642 men and 1,275 women), 2,092 in Portarlington (1,149 men and 943 women), and 798 in Rathdowney (442 men and 356 women).
This slight rise between June and July may be due to the fact that people preparing to go into third level education often sign on during the summer months, with the figures usually dropping again once university terms begin.
The latest figure is still more than double what it was a decade ago, with a look back to the boom year of 2007 revealing that there were were 2,600 on the local live register that July, 1,419 men and 1,181 women. This broke down to 1,157 in Portlaoise (622 men and 535 women), 1,009 in Portarlington (564 men and 445 women), and 434 in Rathdowney (233 men and 201 women).