Belfast Telegraph

Jobless rate rises for third month

The unemployment rate has risen for the third month in a row, official figures have revealed.

The total number of people signing on for dole benefits in June reached 440,600 - a hike of 2,700 from the previous month.

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) figures showed the current rate of unemployment is 14.9% - 0.5% higher than the same period last year.

It also showed a monthly increase of 1,900 females signing on to the Live Register, and a rise of 800 males.

The data revealed a 6.8% increase in the number of people claiming benefits long term from June last year, while short-term claimants fell by 6.8% to 252,725.

The amount of young people signing on for dole has also decreased, with the percentage of under-25s on the Live Register at 17.5% last month, compared with 19% in June last year.

Small and medium enterprises organisation Isme warned that many of the long-term unemployed will remain out of work unless the Government makes significant changes to the welfare system.

Chief executive Mark Fielding blamed in-fighting within the coalition Government and potential plans to hike job taxes for preventing job creation.

"The Government's plan for jobs is a shambles as the conflicting camps within Cabinet propose polar opposite strategies, increasing economic uncertainty, consumer confusion and fear of investment," said Mr Fielding. He challenged Jobs Minister Richard Bruton to stop "flying kites" and focus on export-led growth and job creation within small and medium businesses.

Meanwhile, the Small Firms Association described the CSO figures as disappointing but unsurprising. Assistant director Avine McNally said that, while jobs announcements over recent months have been welcome, they are not enough to stem the tide.

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