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5 August 2013 Edition

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Tackling Unemployment

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• So what happened to the 11,800 people who are no longer unemployed?

If the mainstream media reported beyond the CSO headline figures on unemployment, the public would have a much better picture of what’s really happening on the jobs front

THE Fine Gael/Labour Government are claiming that they are making progress in tackling the unemployment crisis. Jobs are being created, they say; the live register is falling; the number of people in employment is increasing.

Surely this is good news? Should we not be commending Fine Gael and Labour for their efforts?

Every three months, the Central Statistics Office publishes the Quarterly National Household Survey. This detailed report provides us with the headline employment and unemployment figures.

Unfortunately, most of the media don’t report beyond the headline figures. If they did, the general public would have a much better picture of what’s really happening on the jobs front.

So what does the latest survey (published in May) tell us?

In the Government’s favour it shows that, since Fine Gael and Labour took office, the number of people officially unemployed has fallen by 15,600.

It also shows that the number of people in employment has increased, though only by a paltry 3,800.

So what has happened to the other 11,800 who are no longer unemployed? Some will have gone into education or training. Others have emigrated.

So three quarters of the fall in unemployment since Fine Gael and Labour took office is down to people leaving the labour force, not getting jobs.

The report also highlights a very worrying trend in the jobs market.

While the total number of people in employment has increased, the number in full-time employment has fallen by 10,700.  At the same time, the number of people in part-time employment has increased by 14,400.

So the net increase in jobs is an increase in part-time jobs.

More worryingly, the survey also tells us that the number of people in part-time employment classified as under-employed has increased by 29,400 – a 23% increase since Fine Gael and Labour took office.

There has also been an increase in the number of people in long-term unemployment since the start of 2011.

The situation for young people is even more troubling.

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• The number of young people in employment has fallen by 24,100

Again, the number of young people officially unemployed has fallen since the Government took office, by 11,000. But the number of under-25s in employment during the same period has also fallen, by a hefty 24,100.

All of these young people have left the labour force, which has shrunk by 35,100, which means that again education and training or emigration explain the fall in youth joblessness.

So what does the CSO Quarterly National Household Survey tell us about the Government’s record in tackling the unemployment crisis?

It tells us very clearly that the Government is failing.

The reason why there are less people unemployed is because there are more people emigrating or going into training and education.

It also tells us that the single biggest change in the labour market is a dramatic increase in low-paid, part-time work.

The Government claims that tackling the jobs crisis is their number one priority. The Action Plan for Jobs 2012 promised to get 100,000 more people to work by 2016.

The Government in mid-July announced its latest initiative to reduce long-term unemployment by 20,000 in the next 12 months and 75,000 by 2015.

Tackling the unemployment crisis means getting people back to work. Unless the Government starts to invest in job creation then the only way these targets will be met is by people leaving the labour force.

If the jobs crisis really is the Government’s number one priority then Budget 2014 will include a major jobs investment package. It will also reverse the damaging austerity policies that are keeping the domestic economy in recession.

Unfortunately, the chances of either of these things happening is about as likely as the Government meeting its jobs targets.

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