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Unemployment reaches record high in Republic

The Republic has officially emerged out of recession, according to statistics published yesterday.

But separate figures yesterday revealed there are now a record 452,882 people out of work in the Republic, an unemployment rate of 13.4%.

Opposition leaders poured scorn on Government claims the country was starting to reap the rewards of its tough economic decisions and insisted the "real recession" was far from over.

Figures released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show the economy started growing again at the start of this year.

But another report published simultaneously revealed the number of people in dole queues has now broken through the 450,000 barrier - the worst it has been in the history of the state.

The Republic's Taoiseach Brian Cowen admitted he was disappointed by the live register unemployment statistics but insisted the coalition was doing everything it could to turn the economy around.

"Everything we are doing is about trying to make sure we get growth back to the economy," Mr Cowen said.

"It is coming in the second half of this year and we have to hope that there won't be further turbulence in markets."

Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore claimed the record proves Fianna Fail and coalition partners the Greens are not taking unemployment seriously.

"There's 300,000 more than were on the live register when the general election took place in May 2007," he told the Taoiseach in the Dail.

"That's 100,000 jobs lost each year that your Government in its present form has been in office - 2,000 a week."

The total number signing on for benefits in June was 452,882, but once seasonal factors are taken into consideration the figure is adjusted to 444,900.

Overall unemployment is now at 13.4% of the workforce - up from 12.9% in the first three months of the year, according to the CSO.

Latest figures also show the economy grew by 2.7% in the first three months of the year.