PEOPLE may be on tenterhooks over Brexit but there are indications that the local economy is still performing well, with unemployment falling again in February.
There were 4,876 signing on the Live Register in February, down from 5,045 in January. Year on year, the number signing on is down by 939, or 16% of the February 2018 total.
West Clare County Councillor Ian Lynch works in construction and he said there has been an improvement. “It’s more positive than it has been. In the construction sector, on a national scale, there has definitely been a pick-up but in the Mid-West Region, there is no major activity. What I’m finding is that the smaller contractors, who are doing houses and extensions and stuff, are actually gone a little bit quieter. But while there is no huge demand for work, they’re still tipping away; there aren’t long spells of three or four weeks out of work.
“You’d find a lot of them on Wednesday mightn’t be sure where they’ll be next week but by Friday, they’ve picked up something. Definitely the sector is starting to come back but there are no major capital projects going ahead in Clare so far. If you look at the whole region, there isn’t a whole lot.”
The Wild Atlantic Way has given an important shot in the arm to the tourism sector in the west of the county, he feels. “Our tourism season is extending; there’s almost an all year-round product. Even in the off-season, there is a lot more tourists around. You don’t have that massive drop-off like you used to have.”
However, West Clare is still lacking significant employers and more needs to be done to strengthen the region’s
economy. “We haven’t seen any major new jobs, 50 to 60 jobs plus. There hasn’t been any announcement like that for a long time. While Moneypoint is still going, the numbers are decreasing. There is a lot of work that has to be done to be sustainable in West Clare. We need to make sure there are jobs there for people all year round.”