Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar admits the country “could and should” be making more of an effort to find work for those rendered jobless during the economic crash.
His comments were in spite of the fact there are now 15,400 fewer people classed as “unemployed” compared to 12 months earlier.
According to the Central Statistics Office, the number of people classed as having no jobs in August was 181,600 — down from 183,300 last month and from 197,000 in August 2015.
The figures mean the unemployment rate has dropped from 9.1% to 8.3% over the last 12 months. It is now 9.5% for men and 6.8% for women.
However, the rate of youth unemployment is much higher. According to the CSO, 17.1% of people aged 15 to 24 are classed as unemployed, though that has come down from 17.7% in July.
Mr Varadkar pointed out that, in the last two years, the number of people without a job has dropped by 58,000.
“There is clear evidence that the country continues to recover from the worst recession ever witnessed by the majority of workers,” he said.
“It reflects our growing economy, and the strong growth in sectors like construction and tourism.”
However, he added: “We still have a lot of work to do and are lagging behind several other EU countries.
“The level of unemployment and particularly long-term unemployment is still too high.
“We could and should be making more progress in assisting those who became unemployed following the crash, and have been unable to find work since.”
“That is why I will continue to work with the Labour Market Council and other experts, on the development of an action plan for jobless families.”
Meanwhile, a pensions company has vowed to almost double its workforce as part of an expansion in the south east of the country.
Officially opening its new Waterford offices, Se2 said it planned to increase its 70-strong staff to 135 over the next three or four years. It is already recruiting for both experienced professionals and those looking to start their career.
Gautam Thakkar, chief executive of Se2, said: “To open our offices in Waterford is an important milestone for Se2.
“This is a sign of our continued commitment to the region, which is an important hub for our global service delivery model, and we are excited about this investment in our business.”
Jobs Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor said the announcement was a great boost for Waterford and the wider South-East.
“It is great to see Se2 growing its company and expanding its workforce in Waterford,” she said.
“The South-East is now the fastest growing region outside of Dublin.”
Se2 is a third-party administrator for the North American life annuity and pensions industry.
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