Belfast Telegraph

Long-term jobless figures up

Northern Ireland's dole queues have seen the biggest increase in long-term unemployed of any UK region, according to new research by a trade union.

The TUC said the number of people who had been claiming Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) in the province for more than one year had gone up to 14,325, up from 9,860 over the past 12 months.

This marked the biggest increase in the UK, the TUC said.

UK-wide, the numbers of long-term unemployed has more than doubled since the recession started at the end of 2007, from 117,000 to 243,000.

Northern Ireland's peak for unemployment is not expected to arrive until some time after Great Britain with the region slower to emerge from recession.

The province's unemployment rate for July to September was 7.6%, up from 6.6% during the same period in 2009. Around 58,500 signed on in November, an increase of 100 on the month before.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "Across the country thousands and thousands of people have been struggling to find work - some of them for several years now - and for their families there won't be much to celebrate this Christmas."

Mr Barber added: "While many families with working adults may be tightening their belts a little this Christmas, the thousands of long-term unemployed households will be anxiously juggling their family budgets, knowing only too well that their JSA of £65.45 isn't going to buy much Christmas cheer this year.

"With many local councils in the process of issuing redundancy notices to thousands of their employees over the coming weeks, the future for those about to lose their jobs and those who've been out of work for some time looks especially bleak," the TUC general secretary warned.

"The Government's huge cuts to public spending will see thousands of public sector workers being made redundant in the new year, and those working in the private sector could be hit just as hard," he added.

Total figures for those in long-term unemployment, including those not eligible for benefits, increased to 839,000 in October, a 34% rise on the year and the highest level since February 1997.

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman told the Belfast Telegraph: "The coalition Government is focused on restoring the economy and supporting private sector jobs growth."