Wednesday 17 January 2018

Medical card holders soar as unemployment hits 14.4pc

Sarah Stack, Ed Carty and reporters

Almost a quarter of the Irish adult population do not have cover for medical emergencies. Latest figures revealed 41pc had private health insurance at the end of last year, with another 30pc in receipt of the medical card, and 6pc having both.

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) said the proportion of men and women with medical cards rose as unemployment soared over the last three years - from 24pc to 31pc for men and 34pc to 41pc for women.

The number of non-Irish nationals with medical card cover only doubled from 16pc to 34pc.

The quarterly national household survey also revealed more men relied solely on general public health cover than women, with 26pc of men not having either a medical card or private health insurance, compared to a fifth of women.

The total number of people signing on the dole increased for the fourth month in a row in August – up by 1,600 or 0.4pc.

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) said the Live Register has reached 469,713 taking the unemployment rate to 14.4pc.

A larger increase was recorded in July with 3,460 extra people signing on and in August last year the Live Register rose by 6.9pc with an increase of 30,198.

Women accounted for three-quarters of the increase in August 2011, but despite the rise the numbers claiming dole have only increased by 2,790 or 0.6pc in the past year.

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) warned that the number of people claiming benefits long term continues to increase, with 40.8pc of all those on the Live Register now signing on for one year or more.

The euro area seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate was 10.0pc in July 2011, unchanged compared with June 2011; it was 10.2pc

The lowest unemployment rates were recorded in Austria (3.7pc), the Netherlands (4.3pc) and Luxembourg (4.6pc), and the highest rates in Spain (21.2pc), Latvia (16.2pc in the first quarter of 2011) and Lithuania (15.6pc in the second quarter of 2011), according to the European Commission.

Compared with a year ago, the unemployment rate fell in sixteen Member States and increased in eleven.

The largest falls were observed in Estonia (17.9pc to 12.8pc between the second quarters of 2010 and 2011), Latvia (19.9pc to 16.2pc between the first quarters of 2010 and 2011) and Lithuania (18.2pc to 15.6pc between the second quarters of 2010 and 2011).

The highest increases were registered in Greece (11.0pc to 15.0pc between the first quarters of 2010 and 2011), Bulgaria (10.0pc to 11.5pc) and Slovenia (7.2pc to 8.4pc).

Mark Fielding, chief executive of the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association, claimed the Government's Jobs Initiative, which targeted the tourism sector, is not working.

"With the best will in the world, educational and training programmes, internship schemes and other such initiatives have a very limited capacity to get people back into the workforce," he said.

"The Government must publish and implement a comprehensive three-year plan, dealing with business concerns, including the high cost base, lack of credit and late payments, which will provide clarity to taxpayers.

"Only when businesses and individuals are clear about Government plans, which affect their future commitments, expenditure and incomes, will they be in a position to invest and spend, with the resultant employment benefits."

The Live Register report showed 88,770 under-25s signing on in August.

Youth Work Ireland warned that training and education commitments are not sufficient to address the huge numbers of young people looking for work.

Spokesman Michael Mc Loughlin said: "We all know unemployment is the number one issue in Irish society today but youth unemployment needs special attention as nobody wants to see a whole generation cast aside during this recession.

"If young people drift into long-term unemployment in substantial numbers, it may be hard to rescue that situation when any recovery occurs.

"It is also relatively easier to target young people for education and training measures during the recession as they are closer to the education and training system

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