Tuesday 16 July 2019

Editorial: Progress made on jobs, but it's a long road ahead

Jobs are slowly being created. Picture posed. Thinkstock
Jobs are slowly being created. Picture posed. Thinkstock

JOBS are not created accidentally. The Government has adopted a systemic approach to fostering the climate where sustainable growth in employment has become possible. The harsh lessons of the 1980s showed that getting the public finances in order is a first step towards economic recovery.

The bailout was a harsh repeat lesson.

Allied to the implementation of the troika programme, the Government quietly undertook a lengthy series of small changes to public policy and the operation of the myriad of agencies supporting job creation. Examining the economy on a sector-by-sector basis, Richard Bruton deserves credit for the manner in which the Action Plan for Jobs has been crafted and implemented across a range of government departments over the last three years.

Unlike other strategies which were announced and then allowed to fade into the shadows, the Action Plan is based on setting realistic targets and focusing on them until the measures required are in place.

No one individual item can be pointed to as the solution to the country turning the tide of job losses into six successive quarters of increases. Eighteen months of positive figures on the jobs front has culminated in employment in Ireland now growing at the fastest rate in the western world. There was no panacea. Likewise, the problem is not resolved.

Although 61,000 new jobs were created in the last year and the new jobless rate is down to 12pc, there are still 253,200 people unemployed. The long-term unemployment rate decreased from 8.2pc to 7.2pc over the past year. However, the long-term unemployed still count for three out of five of all unemployed.

And the rate of jobless households is still the second highest in the OECD. The stark figures emphasise the importance of not assuming the jobs will continue to flow.

The singular emphasis of job creation and assisting those on the dole to return to the workforce has to be maintained.

'Let's Get Ireland Working' was the message Taoiseach Enda Kenny inscribed yesterday when he visited the Wayra Ireland base for start-ups in Dublin. The Government still has quite a journey to go before it can say it has fulfilled that ambition.

Irish Independent

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