Dramatic rise in numbers of long-term unemployed
LONG-TERM unemployment has increased dramatically over the last year.
New jobless figures published yesterday have outlined the scale of the challenge the new government will face in getting people back to work.
There was some good news in that the numbers signing on fell by 1,700 in February on a seasonally adjusted base.
But the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 13.5pc, down from a high of 13.6pc last year. However, the Live Register figures would have been far worse if it wasn't for the high numbers emigrating and those returning to education.
A total of 300,000 have lost their jobs over the past four years and it is predicted up to 100,000 more will be forced to leave over the next two years.
The total number on the Live Register now stands at 444,299, down over 23,000 since it peaked last August.
But the figures also reveal the number of people out of work for a year or more has risen by over 56,000 to 163,825 -- an increase of 52pc in just 12 months. Some 37pc of those on the Live Register have been out of work for over a year, compared with 25pc a year ago.
However, separate figures out yesterday showed a significant fall in the number of redundancies notified to the Department of Enterprise in February.
Some 3,134 people were made redundant throughout the month, down 44pc on the same month last year. In the first two months of 2011, 8,016 people have been made redundant, down 34pc on the same period last year.
The Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association (ISME) called on the incoming government to hit the ground running by reducing employers' PRSI and abolishing wage controls.
"There is no time to waste in addressing the unemployment scourge," ISME chief executive Mark Fielding said.
Bloxhams stockbrokers analyst Alan McQuaid said the number of people at work had fallen by 4pc in 2010 and was set to fall by 1pc this year, with significant losses expected in finance and construction.
"The bottom line is that it will be 2012 before we see overall employment levels in the economy increasing from the previous year," he said.