Unemployent rate falls to 12.4% in December

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The unemployment rate has continued to fall slightly to 12.4%, official figures have revealed.

The number of people signing on the live register for benefits fell by 28,322 over the course of last year with the total number of people on the dole at 395,411.

The report from the Central Statistics Office also showed that the number of people signing on for a year or more was down 4% over the course of last year to 179,621.

The number of men on the register in December was 245,721 compared to 149,690 women.

Business leaders welcomed the cut in unemployment but demanded the government introduce concrete long-term measures to tackle joblessness.

Isme, which represents small and medium-sized firms, pointed out long-term claimants still account for a “stubborn” 45% of all those on the dole.

“Government must make reducing the high level of long-term unemployment its full year’s resolution,” said Mark Fielding, Isme chief executive.

“A key obstacle preventing people from returning to work and hindering the creation of employment by SMEs is the social welfare trap.

“Anomalies in the welfare system must be addressed immediately to create a business environment where it is always economically advantageous for people to work.”

High rents, wages and business costs along with increased black market activity and crime against traders were also hindering smaller businesses from growing and taking on more staff, claimed Mr Fielding.

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