THE ESRI commentary represents a “damning indictment” of the Government’s economic performance, the opposition claimed.
Fine Gael deputy leader Richard Bruton said the analysis was “incredibly depressing”.
“The Irish economy is facing disaster on an unprecedented scale,” he said. “Private sector employment is expected to collapse by over 300,000 between 2007 and 2010 — a fall of 17%.
“And even with a return to emigration and thousands of discouraged workers dropping out of the labour force, unemployment will rise to levels not seen since the 1980s.”
He said the Government could not blame the disaster on international factors.
“Previous analysis by the ESRI confirmed that at least half of the calamity being inflicted on the Irish people has nothing to do with the international credit crunch and is a direct result of gross domestic economic mismanagement,” said Mr Bruton.
Labour deputy leader and spokeswoman on finance, Joan Burton said the key message in the analysis was that the economy had not yet bottomed out and things would get even worse.
“Irish unemployment peaked in 1985 at 17.3%. If the ESRI forecasts prove to be accurate, we could see unemployment breaching even this level by the end of next year, recalling our worst memories of the 1980s,” she said.
She claimed the Government had no plan to tackle the jobs crisis.
“The Government’s reliance on an unreformed, unfit-for-purpose FAS during the current crisis is inexplicable to the tens of thousands trying to up-skill and access further education,” Ms Burton said.
“The recent emergency budget was devoid of any serious action to arrest these alarming job losses. The Government must urgently put in place a national jobs plan.”
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