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Ireland moving close to EU average jobless figure

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Some 323,200 people were on the Live Register last month on a seasonally adjusted basis.

Some 323,200 people were on the Live Register last month on a seasonally adjusted basis.

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Ireland's economic recovery is seeing this country move close to the average unemployment figure in EU member states.

This country is now just 0.2 percentage points over the EU average of 9.8pc, new figures from the EU's official statistics body Eurostat show.

Ireland is 1.2 percentage points below the average unemployment figure in the Eurozone.

Greece had the worst figures with over a quarter of the workforce unemployed, while Germany posted EU-best figures of 4.7pc.

"Compared with a year ago, the unemployment rate in January 2015 fell in 24 Member States, remained stable in Belgium and increased in Cyprus (15.7pc to 16.1pc), Finland (8.4pc to 8.8pc) and France (10.1pc to 10.2pc)," Eurostat said.

"The largest decreases were registered in Spain (25.5pc to 23.4pc), Estonia (8.5pc to 6.4pc between December 2013 and December 2014), and Ireland (12.1pc to 10pc)". The figures show Europe is lagging well behind the US, where the unemployment rate of 5.7pc is almost half that of the Eurozone.

"By the beginning of 2009 the unemployment rate in the United States had reached the same level as in the EU28, and stayed above the EU28 rate until the beginning of 2010.

"Since then the US unemployment rate has followed a downwards path," Eurostat said.

Officials hope plans to emulate the US's massive quantitative easing programme will help get the European numbers down.

Eurostat said the economic crisis has severely impacted young people. In Spain, the youth unemployment rate was over 50pc in January.

"From the second quarter of 2008, the youth unemployment rate has taken an upward trend peaking in 23.6pc in the first quarter 2013, before receding to 23.1pc at the end of the year.

"The EU28 youth unemployment rate was systematically higher than in the euro area between 2000 and mid-2007. Since then and until the third quarter 2010 these two rates were very close."

Eurostat said that although high youth unemployment rates do reflect the difficulties youngsters face in finding work, they do not necessarily mean the group is large.

That's because many are studying full-time, meaning they're not working or looking for a job, and so are not included in unemployment figures.

Eurostat said unemployment has historically affected women more than men, but that the rates of men and women unemployed have converged in the last decade and a half.

In 2000, there was a gap of 2 percentage points between the male and female rates but the end of 2002, this gender gap had narrowed to around 1.5 points.

That gap remained fairly constant until the crisis struck, but by the third quarter of 2009 more men were unemployed than women.

Later the male rate fell below the female rate again.

Irish Independent