THE number of people claiming unemployment benefits in Fermanagh has decreased for yet another month, and is down by over a quarter in the past year.
Despite these very positive government figures, questions have been asked as to where all these claimants have gone as there are no corresponding figures, nor anecdotal evidence, to suggest there has been a corresponding increase in the number of jobs locally.
In fact, as reported by the Herald last month, Fermanagh is the worst performing county in the country in respect of job creation, and currently has the lowest number of job vacancies out of all 32 counties, accounting for just 1.19 percent of available jobs in Ireland.
According to latest Labour Market Report, published by the Department for the Economy, the number of people claiming unemployment related benefits, such as
Job Seekers’ Allowance (JSA), in the Fermanagh and Omagh district totalled 1,486 in June. That’s a total of 2.1 percent of the working-age population, a decrease of 5.8 percent on the numbers claiming in May.
With the figure falling month-on-month for over a year now, there has been a total decrease of 26 percent.
It is thought that this figure may be explained largely by the number of young people who have relocated to Belfast and other cities to find employment, although there are no official figures to back this up.
Manager of Fermanagh Citizens Advice (CAB), Siobhan Peoples it was the role of CAB to provide advice and help to clients who need it, rather than measuring the number of those claiming benefits. However, adding CAB had experienced a small but manageable increase in their workload of five percent this year, she did suggest there may be another possible reason for at least some of the reduction.
“We would be helping a lot of clients who are claiming Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), which is sickness benefit,” she said, explaining these claimants would not be included in the figures published in the Labour Market Report.
“We would have high numbers of enquiries to do with ESA, but not to do with Jobseekers Allowance. In the month of June, we only had 23 new enquiries about JSA, but we had 171 enquiries about ESA. For the month of May, we had eight enquiries about JSA but we had 159 enquiries about ESA.
“Perhaps one of the reasons why is maybe there are a lot of people who are actually moving from being on Job Seekers Allowance, who are too sick to work and have moved to Employment and Support Allowance,”
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