Jobless total falls by 1,600 in month
THE numbers of long-term unemployed remains stubbornly high, new figures showed yesterday, increasing the pressure on the Government ahead of its new jobs initiative.
The number of people on the Live Register fell by 1,600 on a seasonally adjusted basis last month, but the total remains at over 439,000, nearly 7,000 more than this time last year.
The number of people classed as long-term claimants increased by a massive 44pc with over 52,000 more people now out of work for a year or more, bringing the total to 141,433. The number of short-term claimants fell by 14pc.
The overall unemployment rate also fell slightly to 14.6pc from 14.7pc in March.
Enterprise Minister Richard Bruton said though the figures were a modest improvement, they were still very poor.
Referring to next week's jobs initiative, he said they were determined to introduce measures that could make a difference for those who were out of work and which could offer new hope and support to businesses.
"We need to create the momentum for a turning point in what has been a very grim number of years. Huge mistakes have been made in policy. This Government is determined to put those right," he said.
The bleak labour market figures demand serious action including cuts to employers' PRSI and an end to wage control mechanisms, said Mark Fielding, chief executive of the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association.
"Taken together with the more than 200 redundancies a day announced recently, the situation continues to remain bleak," he said.
The Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed said they were disappointed to hear the Government talking about "revenue neutral" measures to ease unemployment as it should be treated as seriously as the banking crisis.
With long-term unemployment rising, it was vital people be given proper income and supports to rebuild their hopes for the future, said spokesperson Brid O'Brien.
Business group IBEC welcomed the fall in the Live Register but called for major reform of state employment services and the welfare system, along with a drive to get graduates and the unemployed into work.
"Unless action is taken now, Ireland risks a prolonged and damaging period of high long-term unemployment," said IBEC economist Reetta Suonpera.
The Irish Congress of Trade Unions called for a new state training agency and a new fund to finance upskilling as "one of the surest forms of insurance against unemployment".
They also called for semi-state involvement in big ticket projects such as a national waste system and next generation broadband to boost Ireland's competitiveness.
Levy on pensions to pay for jobs initiative