THE number of people signing on for dole payments continued to rise slightly last month, giving an unemployment rate of almost 14%.
Official figures showed a total of 466,923 people seeking benefits – an increase of about 30,000 in the last year.
The live register report showed the South-East and the Midlands seeing the biggest increases in the numbers signing on last month.
Tradesmen and women made up a quarter of those on the dole – about 116,000 – while last month the professional sector suffered the largest increase with a 1.2% rise.
In August there were 388,066 Irish nationals on the Register and 78,857 non-Irish nationals, while over the last year the number of non-Irish has fallen by 827.
Willie Penrose, Labour’s enterprise spokesman, said 313,000 people have started to sign on since the Fianna Fáil/Green coalition took power in 2007. This has added €6.25 billion to the social welfare bill.
“The combined cost of the bank rescue and the huge numbers out of work is strangling the Exchequer and delaying our prospects of economic recovery,” he said.
Richard Bruton, Fine Gael enterprise spokesman, said about one third of those on the register were now classed long-term unemployed.
“The ever-rising unemployment figures represent the human cost of this Government’s failed policies,” Mr Bruton said.
“Other countries have seen their unemployment levels stabilise, but Ireland’s dole queues continue to grow.
“And with Irish nationals representing the entire increase in the live register over the last 12 months, the recession is hitting Irish families more than ever before.”
He added: “The Government’s blinkered focus of writing whatever cheque is necessary to keep failed banks alive has blinded them to the human cost being felt in every corner and community of this country, and to the policy options that could make a difference.”
Arthur Morgan, Sinn Féin enterprise spokesman, said: “More young people than ever are graduating into an economy that does not have sufficient work for them, leaving them with little choice but to emigrate or to stagnate on welfare payments.”
He added: “We need to realise a smart economy is one where Fianna Fáil and their cohort of banker and developer friends are not at the helm.”
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