The Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association, has described the latest increase in the Live Register as extremely worrying and a confirmation that the labour market is in freefall.
The latest live register figures, seasonally adjusted, confirm that 244,500 people are signing on, up 79,700 on the corresponding period last year, representing an increase of 48%.
Consequently, the standardised unemployment rate stands at 6.3%, up from 5.1% recorded in the second quarter of 2008.
Mark Fielding, ISME Chief Executive, said: "The Live Register figures confirm that the labour market is in crisis, with businesses shedding jobs at record rates. ISME’s recent quarterly trends survey has outlined that 40% of companies have shed staff in the previous 12 months.
"The situation is not due to improve with a fifth of companies (net 21%) expecting to be employing less over the next 12 months."
"As job losses mount and company closures are announced on an almost daily basis, little action is evident from Government to support enterprises, unless they belong to the banking fraternity. While it is laudable to support the financial sector the same level of commitment is not being shown to small indigenous businesses, who are suffering from excessive local charges, increasing stealth taxes and exorbitant energy cost increases."
Mr Fielding concluded: "This year’s Budget should see the introduction of a 12-month freeze on all Government and local charges including commercial rates, water and waste charges.
"The burden of commercial rates and water charges should be redistributed to other sectors including the State and domestic households."