Wednesday 20 September 2017

Commuter-belt counties hit by biggest rise in dole numbers

Aideen Sheehan and Meabh Smith

THE commuter counties around Dublin continue to be hit with the biggest rise in the number on the dole.

The number of people on the Live Register in Ireland has almost doubled in the last year, with 195,115 joining it during the year to May, bringing the unadjusted total to 396,871.

All regions showed significant annual increases, but the largest was in the mid-east region -- Kildare, Meath and Wicklow -- where the numbers on the dole soared by 118pc, the Central Statistics Office reported.

Some towns were even worse hit -- for example, Trim in Co Meath saw the numbers claiming unemployment benefit rocket by 130pc, from 1,337 to 3,064 in just a year.

The southeastern regions of Carlow, Kilkenny, Wexford, Waterford and Tipperary South had the smallest increases at 83pc.

The Live Register is a rough measure of unemployment as it also includes seasonal workers and those working part time, who are entitled to claim unemployment payments.

Around 400 people a day joined the dole last month, although this has fallen back from the peak of 1,000 people a day in February.

That gave a 3pc rise in the month, although fortunes varied, with Limerick seeing the sharpest increase of 7pc in May, as Dell began to lay off hundreds of workers in the county.

Kerry was the only place to record a drop in unemployment last month, by 1.3pc, presumably linked to the tourism season kicking off.

One-fifth of people on the Live Register are foreign nationals, with most of these coming from the EU accession states in eastern Europe, although the number of foreigners joining the dole is now rising more slowly than the number of Irish.

Steeply

Unemployment continued to rise among both men and women, with female unemployment rising most steeply in the southeast, by 6pc, and male unemployment rising by 5pc in the mid-west.

The unemployment figures in Donegal were the worst since records began, said Fine Gael TD Dinny McGinley.

"The latest figures show that the level of jobless in the county is well in excess of 19,000. Since this Government took office two years ago, 12,000 have been added to the dole queues in Co Donegal," he said.

Mr McGinley called for an €11bn stimulus package to create 400,000 "new economy" jobs and a plan to reduce business costs.

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