Unemployment rate hits 14.9%


THE UNEMPLOYMENT rate inched higher in June, rising to 14.9 per cent, its highest level since 1994.

The latest data from the Central Statistics Office show the number of people signing on rose by 2,700 over the month, bringing the seasonally adjusted figure to 440,600.

The number of men signing on increased by 800 month on month, with the number of women rising by 1,900.

Long-term claimants – those on the register for more than a year – rose by 6.8 per cent on an annual basis to 199,249.

Short-term claimants accounted for 55.9 per cent of the Live Register, with 252,725 signing on.

The Live Register also includes casual and part-time employees. These workers accounted for 19.6 per cent of the total register or 88,465. That figure showed a rise from a year earlier when there were 85,765 casual and part-time employees signing on, representing 18.7 per cent of the register.

June saw a decline in the number of young people signing on, with the number under 25 falling by 9.1 per cent or 7,911, extending the trend seen since July 2010. The over-25 age group rose by 0.5 per cent.

Analysts described the data as “disappointing”.

“Following upward revisions to the unemployment rate last month as a result of the publication of the Quarterly National Household Survey, it is disappointing to see another increase in the unemployment rate for June,” Glas Securities said in a note.

“While the Department of Finance yesterday [Tuesday] released encouraging exchequer returns data which suggest that the public finances will meet the budget deficit target for the year, today’s data suggests that the unemployment rate may exceed the Government’s target of 14.3 per cent for 2012.”

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions called on the Government to tackle the crisis. “We have not seen unemployment at this high level since 1993. It is as if all the gains of the last two decades have been wiped out by reckless banks and a European political elite that refuses to learn the lessons of history, or even the lessons of daily experience,” said congress chief economist Paul Sweeney

“With close to 15 per cent out of work it is now imperative that this Government starts to aggressively tackle the jobless crisis.”

The Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association described the unemployment figures as “a disastrous new high”, and urged the Government to adopt enterprise policies to push Ireland to the top of the enterprise league, including a cut in Government-influenced business costs.

“Unless significant changes are made to the welfare system many of the long-term unemployed will simply remain on the dole,” chief executive Mark Fielding said.