Belfast Telegraph

Unemployment rate remains at 14.6%

The unemployment rate has remained unchanged at 14.6% in the first month of the year.

Official figures revealed the total number signing on the live register in January was just shy of 430,000.

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) said that there had been a fall of 10,193 in the total amount of people recorded on the register over the course of last year.

However, the crisis of long-term unemployment showed no signs of abating with 189,857 people now seeking benefits for a year or more.

The number of men on the register for 12 months or more was up by 922 in the year to January 2013 while the number of women in the same position was up by 5,086. The difference between the seasonally adjusted live register numbers and the total signing on was less than 1,000.

Business groups have claimed the static unemployment figures highlight the Government's failure to boost job creation.

Chambers Ireland and the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association (ISME) said if it had not been for such high levels of emigration, the situation would be worse.

ISME chief executive Mark Fielding said policy makers were caught like rabbits in headlights and did not understand the issues. "The truth of the matter is that the current administration is at sixes and sevens when it comes to addressing unemployment, relying on the 'emigration safety valve' and some half-baked community 'employment' schemes to keep the dole queues down," Mr Fielding said.

On Tuesday, the Central Bank cut its predictions of economic growth for this year. The first quarterly bulletin for 2013 estimated domestic business will grow by 0.5% in 2013 compared with forecasts from the end of last year of 0.7%. It estimated the value of the overall economy, measured by gross domestic product and including the multinational sector, would grow by 1.3%, down from 1.7% from the autumn report.

Elsewhere, the Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed and trade union Siptu said most worrying was the fact that long-term unemployment was 3.3% higher than in January 2012. Siptu urged the public to take part in protests organised by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, calling on Europe to ease Ireland's bank debt burden. It said freeing up state finances would lead to job creation and take people off the Live Register.


From Belfast Telegraph