Monday 20 May 2019

Number of people on dole long-term at record high of more than 200,000

Sarah Stack

THE number of people on the dole for more than a year is at an all-time high, it emerged.

While the unemployment rate remained static at 14.8pc last month, more than 200,000 of the 460,000 signing on for benefits were classified as long-term unemployed.

Official figures revealed another 1,600 young people joined the social welfare system in July.

John Stewart, of the Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed, said data for the long-term out of work were deeply worrying.

"Unemployment impacts on people in many different ways," he said.

"People who are long-term unemployed face particular challenges - if you're long-term unemployed it's infinitely more difficult to get back to work.

"Ireland's unemployment crisis demands levels of intervention on a much larger scale than have taken place to date, particularly to tackle long-term unemployment.

"People need to get back to work as soon as possible."

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) said its Live Register for July showed an annual decrease of almost 10,000, but a monthly rise of 8,350.

When seasonally adjusted, and summer factors like education are taken in to account, the monthly difference is a fall of 2,300.

"The trend in the overall Live Register continues to be one of movement within a small range," the CSO added.

Several organisations attacked Government policy over the jobless figures, which showed 39,627 new registrants on the Live Register in July.

On average, 4,750 men and 5,157 women joined each week of the month, the CSO said, while others signed off benefits or had their type of benefit changed.

Youth Work Ireland said young unemployed people had effectively been forgotten by the Government.

Michael McLoughlin, spokesman, estimated there is a shortfall of about 45,000 in the number of education, training and active labour market intervention places needed to ensure young people stay in touch with the jobs market.

"Emigration is on the rise and clearly a huge number of young people see no alternative to leaving their country," he said.

"This entails a huge economic cost as these young people have been educated to a high standard and at a high cost."

Almost a fifth of those signing on - 80,000 people - were casual and part-time workers needing extra supports.

The Irish Small & Medium Enterprises Association (Isme) demanded Taoiseach Enda Kenny take charge of his cabinet and stop them from sabotaging any possibility of job creation.

Isme said proposals by Social Protection Minister Joan Burton on sick pay and PRSI increases were madcap.

Mark Fielding, chief executive, said the association's phones had been hopping with calls from business owners protesting at what he said were ill-conceived and frightening proposals.

"The much announced action plan for jobs is being seen as nothing but a PR exercise from a Government ideologically split and lacking leadership," added Mr Fielding.

"We require clear and targeted pro-enterprise policies to address business concerns, including cost competitiveness, access to finance, social welfare anomalies and public sector costs.

"Then the labour-intensive SME sector will have the confidence to start investing and creating employment as it did in the 90s after the last recession."

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