Finance Minister calls ESRI predictions 'pessimistic'

The Finance Minister Brian Lenihan says his predictions on the rate of unemployment are not as pessimistic as leading economist Dr Alan Barrett's.

The ESRI economist told the Labour Party conference in Clonmel, Co Tipperary last night that the think-tank may revise upwards its labour market predictions for 2009.

It had forecast an unemployment rate of over seven per cent, but Dr Barrett says 8% may be more realistic.

Minister Lenihan says his department's predictions are not as gloomy.

"Well obviously any increase in unemployment is a very serious matter and certainly as a government we are factoring some unemployment into our assessment of how much social welfare we have to pay next year," he said

"My department is drawing up its own forecast which is not a pessimistic as that forecast."

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