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200,000 people are on dole for over a year

The number of people on the dole for more than a year is at an all-time high, it emerged yesterday.

While the unemployment rate remained static at 14.8% last month, more than 200,000 of the 460,000 signing on (or 43%) for benefits were classified as long-term unemployed.

Official figures revealed another 1,600 young people joined the social welfare system during July.

John Stewart, of the Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed, said data for those out of work long-term was deeply worrying: "If you’re long-term unemployed it’s infinitely more difficult to get back to work.

"Ireland’s unemployment crisis demands levels of intervention on a much larger scale than have taken place to date, particularly to tackle long-term unemployment."

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) said its Live Register for July showed an annual fall of almost 10,000, but a monthly rise of 8,350. When seasonally adjusted, and summer factors like education are taken into account, the monthly difference is a fall of 2,300. "The trend in the overall Live Register continues to be one of movement within a small range," the CSO said.

Several organisations attacked Government policy over the jobless figures, which showed 39,627 new registrants on the Live Register in July.

On average, 4,750 men and 5,157 women joined each week of the month, the CSO said, while others signed off benefits or had their type of benefit changed.

Youth Work Ireland said young unemployed people had effectively been forgotten by the Government.

Its spokesman Michael McLoughlin estimated there is a shortfall of about 45,000 in the number of education, training and active labour market places needed to ensure young people stay in touch with the jobs market.

"Emigration is on the rise and clearly a huge number of young people see no alternative to leaving their country," he said.

Almost 20% of those signing on, 80,000 people, were casual and part-time workers needing extra supports.

The Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association (Isme) demanded Taoiseach Enda Kenny take charge of his cabinet and stop them from sabotaging any possibility of job creation. Isme said proposals by Social Protection Minister Joan Burton on sick pay and PRSI increases were madcap.

Mark Fielding, chief executive, said the association’s phones had been hopping with calls from business owners protesting these proposals: "We require clear and targeted pro-enterprise policies to address business concerns, including cost competitiveness, access to finance, social welfare anomalies and public sector costs.

"Then the labour-intensive SME sector will have the confidence to start investing and creating employment as it did in the ’90s after the last recession."