Number on dole queue falls slightly
The number of people on the dole fell slightly last month, official figures have revealed.
A total of 436,956 people signed on for benefits in February, leaving the unemployment rate unchanged at 13.5%.
The Central Statistics Office reported that there had been a fall of 1,622 in the Live Register last month and 7,343 in the year to the end of February. Some 82% of those now signing on are Irish and, of the rest, 18,065 are from the UK.
The Live Register figures also showed that there has been a 50% increase in the levels of long-term unemployment - 56,080 more in the last year.
Willie Penrose, Labour's enterprise spokesman, called for job creation to be a central plank of a new government as his senior colleagues negotiate on a potential new coalition.
He said: "There are, for the 21st successive month, in excess of 400,000 claiming jobseeker's benefit or allowance. There is still a huge challenge facing the country, and the incoming government, to undo the huge economic damage done by Fianna Fail.
"More than ever we need a new government that will put the country back on its feet and give job creation the priority it deserves."
Michael McLoughlin, from the Youth Work Ireland group, said the dole records suggested that a high level of young people emigrating is depressing the figures. He added: "The spectre of emigration is a major social tragedy and seems to be accepted as almost an Irish solution to an Irish problem. This must be challenged."
Other figures on the jobs crisis revealed the Department of Enterprise has been notified of 8,016 redundancies this year. At least 58,731 workers were laid off last year.
Avine McNally, director of the Small Firms Association, said 135 people a day, on average, are losing their job. She said: "What we need is strong leadership from the incoming government. The jobs crisis is very real and they must take immediate action."