Dole numbers rise to record 450,000

More than 450,000 people are now signing on the dole – the highest number in the history of the State, figures revealed today.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen admitted he was disappointed by the latest live register statistics but insisted the Government was doing everything it could to turn the economy around.

But Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore claimed the coalition was not taking joblessness seriously.

“That’s 300,000 more than were on the live register when the general election took place in May 2007,” he told the Taoiseach in the Dáil.

“That’s 100,000 jobs lost each year that your Government in its present form has been in office – 2,000 a week.”

The total number signing on for benefits in June was 452,882, but once seasonal factors are taken into consideration the figure is adjusted to 444,900.

The seasonally adjusted figure rose by 5,800 between May and June while overall unemployment is now at 13.4% of the workforce – up from 12.9% in the first three months of the year, according to the Central Statistics Office.

Mr Gilmore said the figures did not take into consideration the number of emigrants who had gone home because they lost their livelihoods or the scale of young Irish people leaving for Australia and other countries to find work.

Rounding on Mr Cowen’s record on job creation, he said one in every three young men is now out of work and it was hitting their morale and self-esteem hard as well as their pockets.

Every person out of work was also costing the State around €20,000 in lost tax and the payment of social welfare, he added.

Mr Cowen said not everybody who was on the live register was unemployed, pointing out that more than 63,000 people were working part-time while more than 23,000 people were signing on to claim credits.

Defending his Government’s strategy, he said the Back to Education Allowance had doubled this year and insisted the economy would only rebound through the current policy of making the country more competitive, or cheaper to do business in.

“Everything we are doing is about trying to make sure we get growth back to the economy,” he said.

“It is coming in the second half of this year and we have to hope that there won’t be further turbulence in markets.”

Commenting on the latest Live Register figures, small business group ISME said the lack of a coherent jobs policy by Government is exacerbating the problem.

The group called on the Government to immediately publish its proposals to rectify the problem.

“If the Government put the same effort into the jobs crisis as they have done in bailing out the bankers and big property developers, we would not be in the mess we are in today," said ISME Chief Executive Mark Fielding.

"What is required is a comprehensive plan that will confirm the Government proposals to solve the issue."

Meanwhile the Small Firms Association (SFA) also expressed its concern about the figures.

“What is particularly concerning about the Live Register figures is that our ability to create new jobs has been severely damaged by losses to competitiveness in recent years," said SFA Director Avine McNally.

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