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Men hit hardest as latest jobless figures up 62pc

It was a poor start to the new year for employees, as almost 7,000 full-time workers were let go, the equivalent of 319 per every working day in January.

There was a 62pc monthly increase in the numbers of unemployed in January, according to the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

And while the figures were only marginally worse than the 6,566 redundancies in January last year, job losses are now running at their highest level in seven months.

Men continue to be the hardest hit, accounting for around two thirds of the redundancies recorded in the month.

The fall in the workforce comes as exchequer figures outlined a further fall in the income tax take.

Government revenues fell by 18pc, as last month's tax take came to €3.074bn -- a reduction of €660m on the figure for January 2009.

The largest fall in percentage terms in the figures came in the corporation tax bracket, which fell by 66.5pc on the same period last year.

A massive €353m fall in VAT reflected Irish consumers' reluctance to spend, while income tax was down by €113m, or 9.7pc, reflecting the increase in unemployment.

And a reflection on the lacklustre housing market was reflected in stamp duty figures, down €20m, or 40.9pc.

The Department of Finance said the figures were in line with expectations.

Labour deputy leader Joan Burton, however, said while some of these falls may be due to timing differences, the VAT demonstrated that consumers have no confidence in this Government.

"Fianna Fail's suggestion that December's budget would mark a turning point for the economy has turned out to be a damp squib," Ms Burton said.

Patricia Callan of the Small Firms Association accused the Government of becoming complacent about jobs because of the apparent stabilisation of the Live Register. But the figures "clearly show that small businesses have continued to haemorrhage jobs into 2010".

Ms Callan called on the Government to introduce measures to tackle the issue of cost-competitiveness. These include the reduction of energy costs by giving ESB and Bord Gais dividends as rebates on bills and postponing the introduction of a carbon tax.