Number of women on the unemployment register on the rise
THE number of women out of work for more than a year has soared by a fifth.
Official figures show the unemployment rate remained at 14.2pc in February, with 439,422 people claiming benefits.
The Live Register revealed the overall number of people signing on dropped by 4,877 (1.1pc) over the last year.
But while the number of male claimants dropped by 8,356 (2.9pc) to 283,450, the amount of women on benefits rose by 3,479 (2.3pc) to 155,972.
The number of women on the dole for more than 12 months also rose by 8,199 (19pc), while the amount of men went up by 12,531 (10.4pc).
ISME, the Irish Small & Medium Enterprises Association, demanded Government take immediate action on the jobs front.
Mark Fielding, chief executive, said a slight drop in numbers signing on masks the true level of unemployment which is under-reported through increased emigration and increased participation in training initiatives and college courses.
"The true picture in the jobs market is that well over half a million of our citizens are out of work," he said.
"The recent Action Plan for Jobs sets out a broad strategy and now needs to be actioned with real initiatives, however business will not be in a position to create jobs unless the cost base is reduced.
"There has to be a parallel concerted effort to reduce the overall cost of doing business in Ireland."
The Central Statistics Office (CSO) said the Live Register for February included 184,555 long-term unemployed, 36,102 new registrants and 88,214 casual and part-time workers, which represented 20pc of those claiming benefits.
Elsewhere the number of people aged 25 and over increased by 2,254, while those under 25 fell by 7,131 - believed to be linked with emigration.
Avine McNally, assistant director of the Small Firms Association, said while the drop in the Live Register is welcomed, action is vital to address the unemployment crisis and the challenges that are being faced to get people back to work.
"There is a major concern from today's figures, with 42pc of claimants on the Live Register for a year or more, the task the Government faces in re-skilling and retraining is daunting, but necessary, if Ireland is to further improve the quality of our workforce and to avoid a long period of structural unemployment," she said.
"For jobs to be created the Government must provide greater certainty to consumers and the business community; stimulate the domestic economy and prioritise rising business costs.
"Only when businesses feel more confident will we start to see businesses invest, grow and create employment."