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Friday 15 December 2017

Nearly half of unemployed without work for over a year

Brendan Keenan

ALMOST half the unemployed have now been out of work for more than a year, as jobs remain hard to find, official figures show.

Although the rate of job losses slowed in the 12 months to September, the lack of employment opportunities means the percentage described as long-term unemployed continued to grow rapidly.

The big shakeout of jobs occurred in the first nine months of last year and many of those affected are now more than a year without work.

Another 13,000 joined that category during the three months July-September. Fine Gael Enterprise Jobs & Economic Planning spokesman Richard Bruton described the figures as "a bitter disappointment."

"The long-term unemployment rate at 6.5pc of the workforce is five times what it was at the end of 2007," he said.

Brid O'Brien, Head of Policy and Media with the Irish National Organisation for the Unemployed said current plans held little hope for the jobless.

"The 90,000 jobs target over the four-year National Recovery Plan period doesn't amount to even a prospect of a job for those currently long-term unemployed, let alone anyone else who will be looking for work," she said.

The increase in new unemployment was just over 5,000 and the number of people at work fell by 7,600 during the quarter, the Central Statistics Office said.

The fall came despite the fact that July-September should be a good period for temporary jobs in the retail and hospitality industries. Allowing for this, the CSO calculates that the 7,600 fall translates into an underlying decline of 23,400.

Both statisticians and analysts hope this figure may be too high, because of the uncertainty over seasonal factors in the present state of the economy.

"Companies may not have increased temporary summer employment in the same fashion as in previous years," said Conall MacCoille in Davy Research.

Officials said they were reluctant to give estimates for emigration because they were only based on other figures collected in the survey of households.

"Increased emigration will be a key factor in limiting the rise in the unemployment rate," said Alan McQuaid, chief economist at Bloxham Stockbrokers. "Because of that, we don't see it going much above 13.5pc next year, despite the severe fiscal austerity."

The building industry accounted for more than half the 71,000 jobs lost over the 12 months. At 115,000, the industry employs almost 60pc fewer than at the height of the building boom.

Another 8,000 jobs were shed during the three months, when seasonal factors are taken into account.

Jobs in the financial and property sectors fell by 9.4pc over the 12 months, and industry shed 4.4pc of its workforce.

Irish Independent

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