Temporary Pause in Upward Unemployment Figures

3 Oct 2003

The Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed welcomes another monthly pause in the upward rise of unemployment. While the seasonally-adjusted figure has reduced by 4,100 in the month, the yearly increase stands at 9,500 or 5.8% up on September 2002. However, it must be noted that the monthly figure is distorted by the changes to the Back to Education Allowance scheme, whereby over 1,100 have come off the Live Register after the summer holidays.

“Unfortunately, all the economic indicators show that unemployment is set to rise in the months ahead”, said general secretary Eric Conroy. Industrial employment is down 10,600 in the year to June 2003 to 245,900, its lowest level in many years. Average industrial hours worked have reduced in recent times as employers hold existing staff in the hope of improved trading conditions. This will lead to job losses if the economy does not improve in the short term. The number of notified redundancies in September (2,563) was one of the highest in 2003 and is 61.5% higher than the corresponding figure in 2002. These will have a negative impact on the Live Register figures in the months ahead.

The INOU has been constantly concerned by the significant element of youth (under 25 years) unemployment in the Live Register figures. This category has increased by 35.5% in the last two years compared to an increase of 18.5% for those over 25. This is in part a fallout from the Celtic Tiger years whereby many young people were enticed away from their schooling by financially tempting but essentially dead-end jobs. With the cold winds of recession, these jobs have disappeared and these young people have lost out on their educational qualifications. The correlation between unemployment (and leading to long term unemployment) and lack of educational attainment is very stark, especially in Ireland. Therefore the State must strive to reach the NAPS target of 90% completion on upper second level education by 2006.

“We call on the government not to be complacent about the state of unemployment. It will get worse unless measures are taken to stem the flow of job losses”, said Mr. Conroy. As the Estimates for 2004 approach, the INOU specifically calls for the re-instatement of the budgets of the job creation agencies, which were cut back last year.