Unemployment almost trebles in two years to 12.7%

THE unemployment rate has almost trebled from 4.6% to 12.7% in just two years, figures from the Central Statistics Office show.

According to the National Quarterly Household Survey, 15.6% of men and 9.1% of women eligible to work are unemployed. The number of people without work is the highest since 1994, when the figure was 14.7%.

According to the National Quarterly Household Survey, there were 1,922,400 people in work in the third quarter of 2009. That was 8.8% or 184,700 less than in the same quarter last year. Men made up the majority of the decrease at 142,400.

There were 279,800 people unemployed in the third quarter of 2009, 120,400 or 75.5% more than in the previous year.

Male unemployment increased by 89,200 (86.8%), with the number of unemployed females increasing by 31,300 (55.3%).

The number of people considered long-term unemployed has shot up from 38,100 in the third quarter of 2008 to 71,400 in the same quarter. The number of people in the labour force — employed or seeking employment — has declined by 64,300 last year alone.

The CSO said attributed this to a combination of factors, including the ageing population, with more people reaching retirement age. The unemployment rate is highest in the south-east of the country at 15.1%, 2.4% higher than the national average of 12.7%. It is at its lowest in Dublin at 11%. Just two years ago, the unemployment rate was as low as 3.7% in some parts of the country.

Austin Hughes, chief economist with KBC Bank, said the data compiled by the CSO suggested Ireland has not reached a turning point in terms of employment “even if there are tentative signs that activity is beginning to stabilise”.

“The likelihood is that employment will post declines well into 2010 because any turnaround in activity is unlikely to be sufficiently vigorous to warrant an increase in workforce,” he said.

“Today’s disappointing jobs data hints that a key factor in the recent improvement in Live Register data owes a good deal to departures from the labour market rather than a turnaround in employment.

“CSO estimates suggest that the number of Irish nationals aged 15 and over living in Ireland has continued to increase — albeit at a much lower pace than in previous years (+1.3%).

“However, the number of adults who are in the jobs market has shrunk by 1.2%. The most significant fall in labour force participation has been among those in the 20-24 age group which may suggest increased participation in higher education,” Mr Hughes.

Leo Varadkar of Fine Gael hit out at the government for not taking the opportunity in Budget 2010 “to introduce wide-scale pro-employment policies to get willing people back into the workplace. It failed this challenge. As a result, the recession will last even longer and thousands more people will lose their jobs”.

“With the CSO reporting a shrinking labour force, workers are choosing to leave the country rather than languish on the dole.”


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