Tuesday 12 December 2017

Long-term unemployment rises by more than one-third

Shane Hickey

THE number of long-term unemployed has increased by more than a third over the last year.

New figures released yesterday show there are now over 186,000 people who have been out of work for more than a year, the vast majority of whom are aged over 25.

In June 2010, there were 137,195 on the live register for more than 12 months, according to the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

However, this jumped to 186,643 this month. Eight of every 10 of these were over 25.

The new figures show the live register rose to 446,800 in June -- a jump of 2,900 compared to the same month last year.

More than 40pc of those on the live register have been on it for more than a year.

The rise in the number of unemployed sparked anger amongst small businesses who demanded the Government take more action in order to tackle the problem.

"The figures highlight the huge challenges that are being faced to get people back to work and that the focus on job creation is getting more critical by the day," Avine McNally, assistant director of the Small Firms Association, said.

"The increase in the number of long-term unemployed, with over 40pc of claimants on the live register for over a year, is worrying. Our ability to create new jobs has been damaged by losses to competitiveness."

The body has called for a reduction in employers' PRSI and business costs and a review of the social welfare system.

ISME, the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association, had similar demands.

"The Government needs to understand that this is not a popularity contest. They must put the interests of the country first and not be influenced by party politics, or vested interest groups, determined to maintain the status quo," chief executive Mark Fielding said.

"The decision to reinstate the minimum wage to €8.65 in two days time is simply pandering to the 'populists'. No other country in the world would ratchet up pay costs when unemployment is rampant."

The live register includes unemployed people, part-time workers, seasonal and casual workers and those who get jobseekers' benefits or allowances.

The standardised unemployment rate now stands at 14.2pc -- up from 14.1pc in May.

There were 2,000 more men and 900 more women on the latest live register, according to the CSO figures.

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) said a reskilling programme is needed for the long-term unemployed.

"Long-term unemployment is corrosive of individual and community well-being," Paul Sweeney of the ICTU said.

"We believe there is an unanswerable social and economic case to take money from the National Pension Reserve to specifically fund a reskilling programme for the long-term unemployed."

Irish Independent

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