Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Unemployment Statistics.

Tuesday, 14 March 1978

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 304 No. 9

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2.

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  asked the Taoiseach the number of persons registered as unemployed in the building and construction industry at the latest date for which figures are available.

Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach (Mr. P. Lalor): Information on Patrick J. Lalor  Zoom on Patrick J. Lalor  The latest available date for which the industrial analysis of the live register is available is 18 November 1977.

The total number of persons on the live register in the building, contracting and works of construction industry at that date was 23, 631.

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  Would the Minister give us the figure for November 1976?

[1383]Mr. P. Lalor: Information on Patrick J. Lalor  Zoom on Patrick J. Lalor  I have not got that figure.

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  I have it and I can tell the Minister it was only 641 more 12 months previously—a difference of 641. So much for the zap employment programme.

3.

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  asked the Taoiseach (a) whether he accepts the current live register total as accurately reflecting the number of persons now out of work and seeking work; (b) whether he accepts the live register totals reported in the months of May and June 1977, as having accurately reflected the number of such persons at that time; (c) if not in either case, what number he would calculate for each period and in what way he would calculate it.

Mr. P. Lalor: Information on Patrick J. Lalor  Zoom on Patrick J. Lalor  With regard to the live register I think I can say that there is general acceptance that the live register total does not fully reflect the actual level of unemployment in the economy. For example, it does not include young persons looking for work for the first time or other unemployed persons who for various reasons are not applicants for unemployment benefit or unemployment assistance. In regard to the latter group, the proposal recently announced in the budget to relax the eligibility conditions for single women applicants for unemployment assistance, to be introduced next October, will of itself have the effect of increasing the register when it comes to reflect this extra element of unemployment not currently covered in the total.

The live register does however provide a regular and reasonably satisfactory indicator of the trend in the level of unemployment and it also makes it possible to compile a range of detailed tabulations—according to industries, regions, duration of registration and so on—which have proved to be of considerable use for the purposes of social and economic analysis.

An annual mid-April estimate of the number of persons “out of work” is prepared within the framework of the annual estimates of the total labour force. This is obtained by using the live register trends—excluding persons on systematic short-time working—to [1384] update the most recent census of population totals for persons “out of work”. The classification of a person as “out of work” in a census is based mainly on the respondent's own assessment of his or her economic circumstances and does not depend on the receipt of unemployment benefit or unemployment assistance.

The most recent estimate for the number “out of work” on this basis is 108,000 for mid-April 1977. This does not include persons seeking work for the first time for which the most recent official estimate available is that of 20,000 given by the 1975 Labour Force Survey for May 1975. A corresponding estimate for 1977 will be available within a few months from the 1977 Labour Force Survey.

The whole question of unemployment statistics is under consideration by an interdepartmental study group. In particular the group is examining the question of formulating a measure of unemployment in labour force surveys which will more adequately reflect the level of unemployment in the community, taking into account a number of criteria, such as the availability for work and the search for work.

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  When all that smoke has cleared away would the Minister tell us how many were unemployed in June last year and how many are unemployed and looking for work now? Would he make an estimate—his best estimate?

Mr. P. Lalor: Information on Patrick J. Lalor  Zoom on Patrick J. Lalor  Why should I estimate when the latest date for which we have figures at this stage is 3 March and the number registered is 5,610 fewer than the corresponding figure for last year.

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  Would the Minister accept that the figure of just over 112,000 reported yesterday evening is 3,000 more than were unemployed at the time of the last general election? There are, in fact, 3,000 more on the live register now than in mid-June 1977.

The Taoiseach: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  Does the Deputy not know we must take like with like?

[1385]Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  Would the Minister accept that difference between now and last June?

The Taoiseach: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  We are talking about now and not last year.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  I am calling on Deputy Cluskey to ask a supplementary question.

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  Sir, would the Minister accept that, whatever may be the difference in the season, there are actually 3,000 more out of work now than there were in mid-June 1977?

Mr. P. Lalor: Information on Patrick J. Lalor  Zoom on Patrick J. Lalor  No. We talk about out of work. There are 5,600 fewer unemployed.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  I have one more question.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  I am calling Deputy Cluskey.

Mr. Wilson: Information on John P. Wilson  Zoom on John P. Wilson  There are now 5,600 fewer people drawing unemployment benefit than there were this time last year.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  Would Deputy Kelly please resume his seat?

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  The Minister should not let the children hear him interrupting when others are speaking.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  If Deputy Kelly continues to ignore the Chair I will have to take action. I have called Deputy Cluskey.

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  I am not the one who is making a farce out of Question Time.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  I am calling Deputy Cluskey.

Mr. Cluskey: Information on Frank Cluskey  Zoom on Frank Cluskey  If the same criteria had been used by Fianna Fáil prior to last June, would the unemployed figure now be 154,000?

Mr. P. Lalor: Information on Patrick J. Lalor  Zoom on Patrick J. Lalor  Using that criteria, yes. The situation is that there are almost 6,000 fewer people unemployed. That is the point.

[1386]Mr. Cluskey: Information on Frank Cluskey  Zoom on Frank Cluskey  Thank you. There are 154,000 more unemployed.

Mr. Mitchell: Information on Jim Mitchell  Zoom on Jim Mitchell  May I ask the Minister——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  I will not allow any more supplementary questions.

Mr. Mitchell: Information on Jim Mitchell  Zoom on Jim Mitchell  The Minister said that the number of registered unemployed was reduced by 5,600. How many more——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  Deputy Mitchell, please sit down.

Mr. Mitchell: Information on Jim Mitchell  Zoom on Jim Mitchell  I asked—

Mr. Wilson: Information on John P. Wilson  Zoom on John P. Wilson  There are 5,600 fewer people drawing unemployment benefit now than there were last year.

Mr. Mitchell: Information on Jim Mitchell  Zoom on Jim Mitchell  Registered unemployed?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  Will the Deputy resume his seat?

Mr. Mitchell: Information on Jim Mitchell  Zoom on Jim Mitchell  I want to ask the Minister for Education and unemployment how many people——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  The Deputy is asking no question against the advice of the Chair. I am calling the next question.

Mr. Mitchell: Information on Jim Mitchell  Zoom on Jim Mitchell  How many unregistered people——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  I will ask the Deputy to leave the House if he refuses to resume his seat.

Mr. Mitchell: Information on Jim Mitchell  Zoom on Jim Mitchell  I would hate to do that, but I want to ask the Minister a question.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  I am asking the Deputy to resume his seat. I am calling Question No. 4.


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