Opposition says Cowen lacks any job creation strategy
THE Government was last night accused of having no jobs strategy as the number of unemployed broke the 450,000 mark.
Defending the Government's economic policies, Taoiseach Brian Cowen said jobs will not be created "in a vacuum and will not be created on the basis of letting our public finances go out of control".
Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore said the latest jobless figures were "the highest number of people ever unemployed in the State". He described the level of unemployment as the "biggest crisis that the country is facing at present".
He accused the Government of not taking the problem seriously. Mr Gilmore said the 452,882 people now on the live register is 300,000 more than when Fianna Fail and the Greens took power after the 2007 general election.
"This is not counting the number of people who have left the country -- as immigrants who have gone home and young Irish people who have emigrated to Australia and elsewhere.
"One in every three young men in the workforce is out of work. It impacts on the level of poverty experienced by households and the self-esteem and morale of those out of work," he said.
Fine Gael finance spokesman Kieran O'Donnell said the latest figures show the domestic economy and the labour market are still mired in recession.
"The ongoing collapse in investment spending revealed in the CSO's Quarterly National Accounts, and the large rise in benefit claimants, confirm that the Government's recovery plan is failing.
Mr Cowen said: "Everything that can be done to find opportunities for people to up-skill and train is being done. Increased resources are being applied."
"The difficult decisions that we are taking have to be taken and are absolutely necessary.
"I do not suggest for one moment that there is any degree of satisfaction or complacency about these figures.
"But we will only turn this around on the basis of doing the job of work which the Government is engaged in -- reducing our costs, getting exports going, as we are doing, and making sure that people can sell goods and services in the marketplace in order to maintain the jobs we have, take on part time people in due course and then turn those jobs into permanent jobs," he added.