The numbers signing on in Laois have dropped by 11 percent within the last 12 months, with close to 1,000 fewer people on the live register in February than was recorded in the second month of 2014.
The latest figures from the Central Statistics Office reveal that there were 7,631 people signing on at the county three Social Welfare offices in February, 4,626 men and 3,005 men. This broke down as 3,810 in Portlaoise (2,308 men and 1,502 women), 2,792 in Portarlington (1,694 men and 1,098 women), and 1,029 in Rathdowney (624 men and 405).
This was 951 (or 11 percent) fewer people than in February 2014, when there were 8,582 people on the local live register, 5,336 men and 3,246 women. There were 4,311 in Portlaoise (2,650 men and 1,661 women), 3,201 in Portarlington (2,000 men and 1,201 women), and 1,070 in Rathdowney (686 men and 384 women).
The figure for February this year is also down 146 from January, when there were 7,777 people signing on in the county, 4,738 men and 3,039 women. This broke down as 3,852 in Portlaoise (2,341 men and 1,511 women), 2,866 in Portarlington (1,751 men and 1,115 women), and 1,059 in Rathdowney (646 men and 413 women).
As always, a comparison with the numbers signing on back in the Celtic Tiger years provides a stark contrast with the current figures. A look back to February 2005 shows that there is currently a whopping 278 percent more people on the register than recorded then.
In February 2005, there were just 2,017 people signing on in Laois, 1,122 men and 895 women. There were 886 in Portlaoise (518 men and 368 women), 779 in Portarlington (389 men and 390 women), and 352 in Rathdowney (215 men and 137 women).