The number of people on the live register in Laois has dropped by 11 percent within the past 12 months, the second year in succession that the county has experienced a reduction in the numbers signing on.
The latest figures from the Central Statistics Office reveal that there were 7,739 people signing on at the county’s three Social Welfare offices as of December last, 4,709 men and 3,030 women.
This broke down as 3,791 in Portlaoise (2,310 men and 1,481 women), 2,897 in Portarlington (1,757 men and 1,140 women), and 1,051 in Rathdowney (642 men and 409 women).
The 2014 end of year figure is down 975, or 11 percent, from the 8,714 people signing on in Laois in December 2013, 5,370 men and 3,344 women. This broke down as 4,307 signing on in Portlaoise, 3,243 in Portarlington, and 1,064 in Rathdowney. The 2013 figure was also down on the number recorded in December 2012, when there were 8,809 on the register.
Local TD and Foreign Affairs Minister, Charlie Flanagan welcomed the decline in the local live register, although he said the numbers remain too high.
“In County Laois we are entering 2015 on a positive note with this decline in live register numbers and with the recent announcement by Topaz that 110 new jobs will be created at two major new service stations in North Dublin and near Ballacolla. The construction of the new facility in Laois is supporting a significant number of construction jobs in the area and this is a welcome boost,” he said.
As positive as the drop in the live register is, the State still has some way to go toward returning to the economic prosperity of the boom years. A glance back at the live register figures for December 2007 shows just 2,787 signing on in Laois, 1,720 men and 1067 women.
This means there is close to 180 percent more people currently signing on than during the Celtic Tiger period of seven years ago.