More than 1,000 a month joined dole queue in past year – CSO
MORE than 1,000 people a month joined the dole queue over the last year as rate hits 14.8pc.
Official figures showed a total of 309,000 people were unemployed by March - up 13,300 in the previous 12 months.
The Central Statistics Office (CSO) said the long-term unemployed - people who have not held a job in a year - now account for 60pc of those out of work.
ISME, the Irish Small & Medium Enterprises Association, raised concerns and described the current unemployment situation as disastrous.
Mark Fielding, chief executive, said: "The continuous increase in unemployment and in particular the long-term unemployed clearly demonstrates that the Government's job strategy is not working.
"Much more action is required on the jobs crisis to arrest the savage loss of jobs."
The latest Quarterly National Household Survey found almost 2.1 million people were of work age in the first quarter, down 4,800 over the year.
Of those, 1.786 million were employed - an 18,100 drop over the previous year.
The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased from 14.5pc to 14.8pc over the quarter.
ISME called on the Government to introduce a jobs initiative to subsidise employment, to address the bank credit crisis, and to reform the social welfare system to make it worthwhile to work and come off the dole.
"While the Government cannot create jobs its responsibility is to foster an environment in which jobs can be created," said Mr Fielding.
"Now is the time to prime pump the economy with a jobs initiative that subsidises employers for each additional job created.
"That action will encourage confidence and stimulate consumer spend, starting the recovery process."