Belfast Telegraph

Ireland's jobless rate soars

The Republic’s unemployment crisis worsened last month as an extra 6,600 people joined the dole queues.

New Live Register figures showed the Irish unemployment rate increased from 13.4% to 13.7% in May, as the numbers signing on hit an all-time high of 439,100. That compares with a rate of 6.7% in Northern Ireland.

The South’s Enterprise Minister Batt O'Keeffe said: “While the relatively modest increase in today's Live Register figures is disappointing, we should recall that they follow two months of solid stabilisation.

“It is worth noting, too, that the number of redundancies notified last month was lower than any single month in 2009, and the lowest we have seen since December 2008,” he said.

An extra 1,650 people signed on every week last month, compared with a decrease of 100 every week in April. The May figures compare with a massive 2,700-a-week increase this time last year.

Ulster Bank predicted that the unemployment rate could now rise to 14%, although their economist Lynsey Clemenger noted that the 0.5% increase this year compared with a 3% jump in the corresponding period of 2009.

“So while the situation remains weak and is still deteriorating, the rate of deterioration is clearly easing back,” she added.

Fine Gael’s Leo Varadkar said the Government was failing to tackle the growing numbers signing on, in a week where it poured another €2bn into ailing Anglo Irish Bank.

“Ireland urgently needs a jobs and competitiveness strategy. Bailing out the banks is not an investment in the future,” he added.

Youth Work Ireland warned that the plight of nearly 86,000 people under 25 on the Live Register was being ignored, as a whole generation was cast aside.

“If young people drift into long-term unemployment in substantial numbers, it may be hard to rescue that situation when any recovery occurs,” said Michael McLoughlin.

IBEC said the big increase in claimants on the Live Register showed the continuing weakness in the labour market.

“However, in light of more positive manufacturing and services sector indicators, we expect that unemployment is now nearing its peak. Progress made to date in improving competitiveness is helping the recovery, but more needs to be done,” said IBEC economist Reetta Suonpera.

Meanwhile, it emerged that three Irish firms went bust every day in May.

Belfast Telegraph