Job losses continue

3 Feb 2010

On February 3rd the Central Statistics Office released the Live Register figures for January, 2010. On February 2nd the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment released the redundancy figures and the Department of Finance released the latest Exchequer returns. What is so striking from these three sets of figures is that the ones that ideally should be going up are going down, and the ones that should be going down, are going up.

Redundancies are up 1.7% on the same month last year but 63% on December 2009. There were 77,001 redundancies in 2009: the highest figure ever giving a monthly average of 6,417 or 1,481 per week. Over the period 2002 - 2007 the weekly average was 473. Though redundancy figures do not capture the full scale of job losses the contrast in these figures highlights the challenges facing Ireland.

The Live Register seasonally adjusted figure originally published for December 2009 has been revised upwards by 2,200 to 428,900. The figure for January 2010 is 434,700 giving a monthly increase of 5,800 and an annual one of 110,600. The Standardised Unemployment Rate is 12.7% and most commentators expect this to increase to 13.5%. The last time Ireland's unemployment rate was at this level was in the mid 1990s when there were 1.25m people in employment. According to the latest Quarterly National Household Survey for Q3 2009 there were 1.92m people in employment. Since then the Live Register has increased by 1.7% and the unemployment rate by 0.3%.

The INOU strongly believes that the best way to solve unemployment is through job creation obviously in the current climate that is far easier said than done. However the impact of job losses and the relentless push to cut wage levels is having a detrimental impact on the State's finance, as the overall tax take is down 17.7%.

In the meantime unemployed people are being encouraged to re-train and educate themselves but the INOU is very concerned as to what end. The Government lacks a coherent jobs strategy. Even if the 'smart economy' concept get off the ground as hoped it will not create sufficient employment. And the development of the knowledge based or smart economy demands considerably more investment than this State is currently putting into education. According to the Book of Estimates the State will spend 6.1% less on education in 2010 than it did in 2009. Yet there is increased demand as unemployed people and others strive to improve their future prospects.

The endless focus on the banking and public finance crisis is to the detriment of unemployed people who are paying the ultimate price for this recession.