Unemployment at new high as 455,000 sign on
ANOTHER 2,500 people signed on last month, pushing the number of people on the dole to a new record of 455,000.
The latest increase puts an extra €50m strain on the public purse, due to lost taxes and additional social welfare payments.
And new official figures reveal the middle classes are joining dole queues in droves.
The number of professionals signing on rose more sharply than any other group of workers to 31,322 last month, a 27pc hike since February.
The second highest increase was among clerical and secretarial workers, as claimants swelled by almost 15pc in the same timeframe.
Last month the mid-west saw the biggest rise in dole recipients, while claimants decreased most sharply in the south-west.
There are now more people claiming unemployment benefits than there has ever been since records began in 1967.
There has been an 8pc rise in the unadjusted figure since last year, driving the unemployment rate to 13.8pc, from 12.9pc at the start of the year.
The Government came under fire from business groups and opposition parties last night after the figures showed dole numbers are still rising.
The Labour Party said the burden on the public finances soared by "an incredible" €6.25bn since the Fianna Fail and Green Party government was formed, as 313,000 joined the dole queues.
It is estimated that the Exchequer loses around €20,000 for each unemployed worker, through lost taxes and social welfare payments. Labour Party spokesman on Enterprise, Trade and Innovation Willie Penrose said the figures were more bad news for the taxpayer in a week where Anglo Irish Bank revealed unprecedented losses.
He said the Government's 'work-for-dole' pilot scheme for 10,000 claimants -- announced last week -- would only deal with the tip of the iceberg.
Labour also highlighted that women accounted for around 70pc of the increase last month.
As the figures "hurtle towards half a million", Sinn Fein warned the Government to shift its focus to job creation or face welfare dependency and emigration.
Fine Gael's Richard Bruton said the jobs market was in the grip of "double-dip recession" when other countries have seen unemployment levels stabilise.
He said it was particularly worrying that the figures showed a third of those out of work are now long-term unemployed, compared with less than a fifth 12 months ago.
The Small Firms Association said the figures were "getting uncontrollable". Chambers Ireland, representing 13,000 businesses, demanded the Government cut taxes and charges on businesses, while ISME blasted its "disastrous unemployment record".
Bloxham Chief Economist Alan McQuaid said the figures were bad news and the only consolation was that the increase was the lowest since April.
The live register includes the unemployed, part-time workers, and casual workers entitled to Jobseekers Benefit or Allowance.