Unemployment rate of 13.1pc is now double the EU average
Good education the key to avoid landing on dole
A GOOD education is the best defence against unemployment as graduates with honours degrees are half as likely to be unemployed as those with lesser qualifications.
Unemployment has risen to its highest level since 1995, with more than one-in-eight people, or 13.1pc of the workforce, now officially out of work, new figures from the Central Statistics Office show.
The Irish unemployment rate is now almost 50pc higher than the EU average of 8.9pc as the scale of job losses and the shrinking of the labour force far outpaced our European neighbours.
The numbers unemployed increased by 97,700 to 267,400 during 2009. The numbers working fell by 166,900 to 1.887 million as more foreigners left the country and participation in the workforce fell.
However, unemployment was much lower among people with a third-level honours degree at 6.1pc, rising to 8.6pc for people with a pass degree, 13.6pc for those with only a Leaving Cert and 18.7pc for those with only primary education.
Construction was the worst- hit sector with 79,600 jobs lost during 2009, while 28,500 jobs were lost in the retail, wholesale and car repair sector. Some 26,700 fewer people were also employed in the agriculture, forestry and fishing sector, but the CSO said they could not explain this figure and were analysing their data to see if this was a sampling error.
There was also a big jump in long-term unemployment, which accounted for half the annual increase, meaning more than 89,000 people have now been out of work for over a year, rising from a fifth to a third of the total jobless numbers.
The number of foreigners living in Ireland fell by 8.9pc during 2009, and is down by over 62,000 since its peak of 485,300 in late 2007, the CSO Quarterly National Household Survey shows. Foreigners were also worst hit by unemployment with 50,000 fewer non-nationals employed at the end of 2009.
This was a 16.4pc drop on the numbers working a year earlier, compared with a 6.7pc drop in the number of Irish people working.
Some 17,500 non-nationals lost jobs in construction, 8,600 lost jobs in retail and 6,400 lost jobs in industry. But, surprisingly, the figures do not back up claims of dramatically increased emigration by Irish people, as the total number of people aged 15 and over living in Ireland fell by just 13,000 or 0.4pc in 2009.
"This comprised a 42,000 or 8.9pc drop in non-Irish nationals and a 29,000 or 0.9pc increase in Irish nationals," KBC Bank Economist Austin Hughes said.
The unemployment figures confirm 2009 as an "annus horribilis" and the worst year of job losses since records began, said Labour deputy leader Joan Burton. "The Government's scorched-earth budget and banking policies continue to take their toll on our fragile economy," she said.
With unemployment hitting 13.1pc, and 457 fewer people at work every day, cabinet ministers should be the ones losing their jobs, Fine Gael deputy leader Richard Bruton said.
"Brian Cowen's reshuffle was a golden opportunity to refocus this dismal Government on job creation and economic recovery. It has failed," he said. Some 250,000 jobs had been lost since the recession began.