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Labour enterprise spokesman Willie Penrose said more than 400,000 people have been on the dole for 20 months

Labour enterprise spokesman Willie Penrose said more than 400,000 people have been on the dole for 20 months

Labour enterprise spokesman Willie Penrose said more than 400,000 people have been on the dole for 20 months

The number of people signing on for benefits increased by more than 5,700 in the last 12 months, official figures have revealed.

There were 442,677 people on the dole in January, taking the unemployment rate to 13.4% - a slight fall on the previous month.

Separate figures compiled by the Government revealed there were 4,893 redundancies in January.

Labour enterprise spokesman Willie Penrose said more than 400,000 people had been out of work for 20 months.

"Everyone knows that the figure would be even higher, were it not for the phenomenon of resumed emigration," he said.

"Nothing summarises the dismal failure of this Government as much as their record on unemployment."

The Live Register - which recorded a fall of 6,900 people signing on last month alone, according to new measurements of seasonal factors - has seen its smallest overall increase for January in three years.

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Avine McNally, director of the Small Firms Association, said it appeared the unemployment crisis has stabilised.

"Small firms are the 'engines of recovery' and real and meaningful growth will come from the small business sector, but that is unlikely to happen for some time yet, as many firms are struggling to survive, due to cashflow difficulties, input costs from Government-administered sectors, and restricted access to credit," she said.


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