Jobs crisis deepens as further 6,600 seek dole
THE unemployment crisis worsened last month as an extra 6,600 people joined the dole queues.
Disappointing new Live Register figures show the unemployment rate increased from 13.4pc to 13.7pc in May, as the numbers signing on rose to an all-time high of 439,100.
Enterprise Minister Batt O'Keeffe said: "While the relatively modest increase in today's Live Register figures is disappointing, we should recall that they follow two months of solid stabilisation.
"It is worth noting, too, that the number of redundancies notified last month was lower than any single month in 2009 and the lowest we have seen since December 2008," he said.
An extra 1,650 people signed on every week last month, compared with a decrease of 100 every week in April.
The May figures compare with a massive 2,700-a-week increase this time last year, the Central Statistics Office figures also show.
Ulster Bank predicted that the unemployment rate could now rise to 14pc, although their economist Lynsey Clemenger noted that the 0.5pc increase this year compared with a 3pc jump in the corresponding period of 2009.
"So while the situation remains weak and is still deteriorating, the rate of deterioration is clearly easing back," she added.
Fine Gael's Leo Varadkar said the Government was failing to tackle the growing numbers signing on in a week where it had poured another €2bn into Anglo Irish Bank.
"Ireland urgently needs a jobs and competitiveness strategy. Bailing out the banks is not an investment in the future," he added.
Labour Enterprise spokesman Willie Penrose said that the Government "has run out of ideas and has run out of steam".
The Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association (ISME) accused the Government of flunking its responsibility on the jobs crisis by failing to get people back to work or to secure existing jobs.
"ISME is shocked that the PRSI exemption scheme announced in the last Budget has still failed to be implemented," said chief executive Mark Fielding.
A generation would be lost to unemployment and emigration unless the Government treated the jobs crisis as a national priority, he warned.
Youth Work Ireland also warned that the plight of nearly 86,000 people under 25 on the Live Register was being ignored as a whole generation was cast aside.
"If young people drift into long-term unemployment in substantial numbers it may be hard to rescue that situation when any recovery occurs," said Michael McLoughlin.
IBEC said the big increase in claimants on the Live Register showed the continuing weakness in the labour market.
"However, in light of more positive manufacturing and services sector indicators, we expect that unemployment is now nearing its peak.
"Progress made to date in improving competitiveness is helping the recovery, but more needs to be done," said IBEC economist Reetta Suonpera.